Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Beloved

You're My Beloved
You're My Bride
To sing over you is My delight
Come away with Me My love

You're Beautiful to Me
So beautiful to Me

Under My mercy
Come and wait
Till we are standing face to face
I see no stain on you
My child

You're Beautiful to Me
So Beautiful to Me

I sing over you My song of peace
Cast all your cares down at My feet
Come and find your rest in Me

I'll breathe My life inside of you
I'll bear you up on eagle's wings
And hide you in the shadow of My strength
I'll take you to My quiet waters
I'll restore your soul
Come rest in Me and be made whole

You're My beloved
You're My Bride
To sing over you is my delight
Come away with me my love

                                                           Kari Jobe

Rest, rest, rest, let's rest in the Savior's arms as He absorbs  and handles all pain, sorrow, confusion, worry and fear.  He takes care of that while we get to gaze into His eyes, relax in His smile, and fall asleep on His lap.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What If

What if God were making no demands on you, had no expectations of you today?

What if God saw you as perfect and righteous because you really were that way?

What if God loved you with a love that you could never erase, no matter how rotten you acted or how many doubts you had?

What if God carried you through every problem of your life, whether you trusted Him all the time or not?

What if God never ever thought about your sin?

What if God had as His goal for your life not to "use" you but to simply love on you and watch your face light up when you saw that love?

What if God is never anything but totally delighted in you, never disappointed in you?

What if God was actually working to turn every rotten thing you've gone through into something good and beautiful for you?

What if God never ever punished you or was angry with you?

What if God held you in His hand and there was no way you could ever fall out, no matter what you felt, doubted, or did wrong?

What if God put absolutely no rules or conditions on you, allowing you to run free?

What if God accepted you completely - as you are - with no possibility of rejection, ever?

What if God called you His friend and loved to just hang out with you, doing whatever you enjoy doing?

What if all this is not  an "if" but truth?  I struggle to believe these things, get confused, have questions, but Grace just keeps on being true. Grace seems too good to be true, yet IT IS.....!

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Favorite Chapter in the Bible


My favorite Bible chapter is Isaiah 54.  Coming right after the chapter on the Messiah's death on the cross, it's such an encouraging message of love from God in light of Christ's work.  I've sort of paraphrased some of the promises I see there into a letter of love (this isn't word for word scripture but some ideas I got out of the passage):

"You've been barren, but now you will be full of life!  What you could never produce on your own, you will have.  You will grow.  You will have a great inheritance.  Everything in your life that is dead will come alive in a new way, and everything that was lost will be found.

"No more shame and disgrace for you  -  the shame of your former life will be forgotten.  Your are accepted!  I am on your side!  I am for you!  In fact, I love you and you are My bride!

"I have redeemed you.  I gather you into My arms with compassion.  I love you with a sure, faithful, forever love.  I will never be angry with you!  I will never rebuke you!  I will never take away My love for you, never stop loving you.  There will always be peace between us.

"I will be faithful to you.  You feel so lonely, so confused, so troubled, but I am holding you and won't let go.  That is your sure foundation.  Our life together is beautiful!  And I think you are beautiful!  We'll always be together, and with Me right there with you, nothing can get to you.

"Terror can't come near you, for I protect you.  I will never attack you or hurt you.  And noone else who ever attacks you will succeed.  Noone can accuse you.  Anyone who accuses you will be put down.  I back you up fully.  Your rightness comes from Me!  And you are perfect for Me!"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Best Advice

I read this recently on a blog.  The quote is from Jamie of Better Than We Know blog.  Such good advice, the best kind, really... Most of the time advice is an admonition to "do" something, but this advice is more to "be":

"Here is the BEST advice someone used to always give me:

Just rest, Beloved.
Let Jesus love on you.
You don't have to prove anything
or perform anything
or figure everything out.
Someone much bigger than you has you in His grip
making your grip on Him unnecessary;
you can let go and rest in His unfailing love and care."

                                                         Jamie Weeks

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Love: A Poem

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, Thou shalt be he.
I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

True, Lord, but I have marred them:  let my shame
Go where it deserves.
And dost thou not know, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
Thou must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat.
So I did sit and eat.

                                                            George Herbert (1593-1633)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Voices

Two voices:

Me:  If only I could get my spiritual act together!

Grace:  You're perfect for Me - perfect!

Me:  What about my struggles, my sins...

Grace:  You're perfect for Me - perfect!

Me:  But my fears, worries, doubts, they hold me down..

Grace:  You're perfect for Me - perfect!

Me:  If only I could figure out this idea of Grace - I can't understand!

Grace:  You're perfect for me - perfect!  And we have a perfect relationship - perfect!

This is me so many times, and Grace Himself keeps reminding me that I'm perfect to Him...perfect!  And our relationship is perfect right now...perfect!  Not based on my doing or merit but on His...And that means so much!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Good News of What Already Happened


The good news of grace is the announcement that God has already done something for us.  It's already happened, so we don't have to make it happen.  We don't make Him forgive us by our perfect works, understanding, or even faith.  He has already forgiven us at the cross.  He has already accepted us, already loved us, already reconciled us.  We simply realize something is already true:  "Wow.  God already loves me just as I am.  He already accepts me, warts and all.  He already wiped out all that was against me by forgiving all my sin.  There's no barrier between us!  I'm home!  Hello, Daddy!"

"Grace is God saying, "I've already paid the price you're trying to pay.  I've already bridged the gap you're trying to bridge.  The indictment is gone.  We're friends now.  In fact, you're my very own.  Come on over to me, problems and all.."                             Jeff VanVonderen

"I made you, shaped you....I'll never forget you.  I've wiped the slate clean of your wrongdoings.  There's nothing left of your sins.  Come back to Me, come back.  I've redeemed you."       from Is. 44:21-22

"God was in Christ personally reconciling the world to Himself - not counting their sins against them..                      from 2 Co. 5:19

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Never Let Go

This song has brought tears to my eyes, just to know that He never ever lets go of us, no matter what!  We don't have to worry about holding on to Him, for He is holding on to us.  And He will never let go!  "I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go."  (Is. 41:13a)


You Never Let Go
by Matt Redman

Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when 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!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Song for a Little Sparrow

Beautiful
Beautiful
He thinks I'm beautiful

Radical
Radical
I'm gonna be a radical

Wonderful
Wonderful
He is so wonderful

Lyrical
Lyrical
He makes life lyrical

Beautiful His caring face
Radical is love's embrace
Wonderful no mind can trace
Lyrical the life of grace

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Forget About Sin


In high school I took Spanish, and one of the learning techniques used was memorizing a little dialogue in Spanish.  I don't remember many of the dialogues, but there is one that sticks in my mind.  It went like this:

Eres de Chile? (Are you from Chile?)

No. No soy de Chile. (No. I am not from Chile.)

Now my best friend and I always laughed about this dialogue because it is so irrelevant!  I am about as Anglo as you can get!  You can be sure that noone will ever think I'm from Chile!  And sure enough, in all these years, noone has ever asked me if I'm from Chile, and learning this dialogue was an exercise in futility.  Why?  Because it had absolutely no relation to my real life!

That is exactly the same way it is with sin now in my life or anybody's.  I don't mean that we never sin.  I just mean that there's no need to focus on dealing with our sins and trying to get forgiven for our sins because they were already dealt with and forgiven at the cross!

What was the cross all about?  I think I've always thought it was Jesus work to make it possible for us to ask for forgiveness.  But now God has shown me something wonderful - the act of Jesus on the cross was the act of forgiveness!  On the cross, God was forgiving us all.  Forgiveness means 'send away'.  On the cross Jesus was sending our sin away.  He is the Lamb of God who doesn't just cover our sins but takes them away!  The cross was the act of getting rid of sin and bringing reconciliation.  God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them.  (2 Co. 5:19).  All wrath against sin has already been taken out at the cross.  The sin issue is now over and done for everybody in the whole world, and it happened way back at the cross.

God's dealing with our sins, forgiving them, doesn't happen when we initially believe in Jesus.  It happened back on the cross.  It's already done!  God's not looking at our sins!  He's looking at us with love in His eyes!  Sin isn't on His mind, it's not an issue with Him.  And if it's not an issue with Him, it shouldn't be with us.

The issue now is Life.  Jesus didn't just die for us; He rose for us.  His resurrection proved He was successful in taking away all our sin.  Now we are completely ready to be filled with the very life of God that we were meant to have ever since Eden.  We all feel that ache inside that needs filling, an emptiness that can only be filled with Him who is Life.  Believing the good news (that Jesus took our sin and took away that barrier between us and God) brings about an amazing change: His very life comes into us and we are raised to new life with Him!  He is inside us forever, fellowshipping with us; that's what life is all about.  It's about receving His life and having a Forever Friend, not about avoiding sin.  Why?  Because the sin issue is over as far as God is concerned, and that goes for the whole world.  The whole world does not now have a sin problem, as far as God is concerned.  What they have is a life problem; they are spiritually dead and need the life of Jesus. The only thing that would ever keep us in death is not believing in Jesus.  Believing in Him brings life!

The fact that sin is gone and forgiven brings security.  I didn't have to do anything to get rid of my sin - God did it at the cross - and that makes it secure.  There's no way I could mess this up or somehow be liable for my sins again.  They're Gone and Forgiven!

There is a really good analogy in the book Classic Christianity that helps me understand this.  If doctors could somehow eliminate every single disease that caused death, noone would worry about dying anymore.  They'd focus on enjoying life.  That is exactly what Jesus has done for us spiritually.  He eliminated the one thing that caused spiritual death: sin.  He took it out of the way, forgave it, brought it down to death, died in our place.  Thus everyone who has believed in Christ and therefore has spiritual life is completely secure.  The one spiritual 'killer disease' called sin has been eliminated, so there's no need to worry about spiritually dying anymore.  We're alive with the forever life of Jesus!  Now we can focus on enjoying that life with Him!  So we can see that God's main issue isn't sin (that's been taken care of) but relationship with us, which is what life in Christ is all about.

So obsessing about sin and trying to deal with it makes about as much sense as asking an Anglo "Are you from Chile?"  It's totally irrelevant to our lives!  God has taken sin away on the cross, forgiven us forever, and the only issue now is enjoying life with Jesus.. That makes me happy today!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Simple But True

As relentless as the waves of the sea, so His love pours upon our souls.

As soothing as the voice of the waves, so His love soothes our spirits.

As gentle as the waves upon the shore, so His love caresses our hearts.

                                     

"He has a single relentless stance toward us:  He loves us."          
                               Brennan Manning

Hug for the Hurting

There's so much pain around.  So many wounded people, people who've been hurt, people who have gone through deep sorrow.  So much pain.

I am so relieved that God hugs us in our pain and sorrow.  He doesn't just watch us from a distance, no, He cries every tear with us and feels every hurt.  He weeps with those who weep.  Jesus was a person who understood what it was like to hurt and to grieve.  He is our place of healing, the only place of healing for all our troubled memories, anguish, regrets, wounds, and losses.  His heart is big enough to contain all the sorrows and problems of the world, big enough to contain you and me.

He will be our strength for us when we feel so weak we can't go on.  He will be our joy for us when we feel sapped of every good emotion.  He will be our healing for us when we feel wounded beyond repair.  He will be our light for us when we feel only darkness all around.  He will hug us and love on us in the midst of whatever life throws at us.  He has conquered this world and its problems, and He and His love will win in our hearts.  No evil can fight against grace and win!  Love wins.  And Love has an eternal hug for the hurting.  

"...there's something about His eyes and His voice.  There's something about the way He carries His head, His hands, the way He carries His cross - the way He carries me."                      Frederick Buechner

"We are buoyed up and carried on by a life greater than our own."
                                                                     Brennan Manning

I'm being hugged and carried today!  You, too...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Perfect Love

If anyone in this universe truly typifies Perfect Love, it's obviously God.  Many of the characteristics of Perfect Love are listed for us in 1 Corinthians 13.  As I read through this list, I realized that my view of God in the past has been the exact opposite of what the Bible says He is like, being Perfect Love.

I have seen Him as impatient, yet 1 Co. 13 says He is patient with us, bearing ill-treatment from us and never giving up on us.

I have seen Him as harsh, yet 1 Co. 13 says He is kind and gentle with us, with a kindness that melts away our own harshness.

I have seen Him as pushy, even rude.  Yet 1 Co. 13 says He does not force Himself on me or others; He leaves us free.

I have seen Him as using us as pawns for His own ends, treating us as expendable tools to bring Him "glory", since it's "all about Him".  Yet 1 Co. 13 says He is not self-seeking, pursuing selfish advantage, or demanding His own way; He cares more for others than Himself.

I have seen Him as easily provoked, irritable, exasperated with me, and quick to take offense.  Yet 1 Co. 13 says He is not touchy or quick to fly off the handle but instead calm and longsuffering.

I have seen Him as keeping a record of sins I committed.  Yet 1 Co. 13 says He takes no account of the evil done to Him and pays no attention to a suffered wrong.

I have seen Him as not putting up with my poor behavior, willing to give up on me if I didn't perform well.  Yet 1 Co. 13 says He puts up with anything, bears up under even our poor performance, is always supportive, never gives up on us, and is loyal to us no matter what the cost.

I have seen Him as looking for the worst in me, constantly noticing my faults and being disappointed in me.  Yet 1 Co. 13 says He is ever looking for and assuming the best about us, with unfading hope for us no matter what the circumstances.

I have seen Him as someone whose love for me could run out if I messed up too much.  Yet 1 Co. 13 says His love endures everything without weakening, can outlast anything, always perseveres, and never looks back but keeps going to the end.  His is a love that will never fade or come to and end.  It's the one thing that still stands when everything else has fallen.  His love for us will last forever!

I has helped me when I've come across a certain teaching or idea about God to simply ask, "Is that the way Perfect Love would act or think?"  He is so much kinder, gentler, more loving and more beautiful than I ever imagined!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is God a Poor Parent?

So often in the past I have projected onto God the character of a very poor parent - mostly angry, detached, always disappointed, always asking for more, wanting only slavish service and good behavior so we can "make Him look good", noting every fault, quick to punish...If that were true about God, then even the most mediocre earthly parent would be better at their job than God Himself!

But God is not like that at all! He's the Perfect Parent! Even if His kids are messed up, we're still His joy and delight!  No failure on our part could ever change His love for us or come between us in any way, for we'll always be His dearly loved kids.  He doesn't treat us in ways that shame us but in ways that free us; His goal isn't to point out our faults but to lavish His love on us and see us smile when we realize how much He really cares.  He loves to cuddle us in His arms and promises He always will hold us close.  He wants to let us know that no matter what, He'll be on our side, loving us forever. What's on His mind is not our behavior but just how precious we are to Him.

God is the Perfect Daddy with the Perfect Love for us, a love that will outlast any doubts, failures, or inconsistencies on our part.  He will love us always, and that love relationship we have with Him is the whole reason behind His creation of us.  Why do people have children anyway?  They have children not because they want slaves or servants but because they want to love someone in that special family way!  Isn't that why God wanted a family, too?  I've often assumed what He wants most from us is our obedience, as if we were created for that.  But what He wants most is to love on us in that special family way!  And even when we mess up, we are still His pride and joy!  We are parented by the best Daddy in the universe!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Confession Time

"Confession" is usually thought of in a negative sense, I believe.  For example, the suspect finally confessed to committing the crime..  I've seen it in the past as meaning admitting that you've committed some sin.  But my understanding is that confession in a biblical sense simply means agreeing with God. 

I think every person who believes in Christ naturally agrees with God regarding sin because we have a new righteous nature within (the nature of Christ Himself) that wants to act righteously and in line with God's nature.  We naturally hate to sin and love to love.  So how we feel about sin is already settled; God showed me recently that no Christian needs to worry that they love sin or that they don't really believe a certain sin is wrong.  The fact is, we are new creations that naturally feel just like Jesus does about sin.  We don't have rebellious hearts but beautiful, new, pure, God-loving hearts.  That puts my mind at ease!

So that got me thinking... what would I like to confess (agree with God) about today?

I confess that I am a righteous child of God in Christ.
I confess that I am no more a sinner but a saint.
I confess that though I still sometimes sin, all my sins have been     forgiven and forgotten because of Jesus' work.
I confess that God loves me as I am.
I confess that I am not nor will I ever be condemned!
I confess that God will never leave me no matter what my failures.
I confess that God calls me His friend!
I confess that Jesus is the best thing going!
I confess that the good news of grace is the best news in the world!

That's my confession time today!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Until Your Love Broke Through

One of my favorite old Christian songs is by Randy Stonehill. He likes to put word pictures in his lyrics that enable you to visualize the feelings and thoughts in the song. This one below is so wonderful in expressing the joy of finding out about God's grace. I lived so long thinking I was never good enough, wearing myself out with "self-improvement" trying to gain God's acceptance. Suddenly experiencing His love breaking through into my weariness, finding out I am already accepted as I am because of Jesus.....it's magical and so beautifully expressed in this song!



Until Your Love Broke Through


Like a dreamer who was trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes would come tumbling down
And I never knew just why
Until today when You pulled away
The clouds that hung like curtains on my eyes
I'd been blind - all those wasted years
I thought I was so wise
Then You took me by surprise

All my life I've been searching for that crazy missing part
With one touch You just rolled away the stone that held my heart
And now I see that the answer
Was as simple as my need to let love in
From now on I will never doubt that magic touch again
It's like the power of the wind

Like waking up from the longest dream
How real it seemed until Your love broke through
I was lost in a fantasy that blinded me
Until Your love broke through

There is nothing in the whole wide world that means this much to me
In Your love I have found the truth and truth has set me free

Now I'm feeling like a barefoot child dancing in the sun
Unafraid I can face each day because of what You've done
Now my life has just begun!
                                                       Randy Stonehill

Friday, September 11, 2009

He Carries Us

We are the sheep and He is the Shepherd.  He carries us close to His heart along all the paths of our life.  And if Jesus is carrying His sheep, it doesn't matter if the sheep is lame, worn out, slow, feeling confused, etc., because Jesus is CARRYING the sheep!  It's okay to be as weak and broken as we really are, because He is going to be as loving, faithful, and strong as He really is! 


"He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young."

                                                           Isaiah 40:11

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Into The Arms of Love

Sometimes when we listen to lies about who God is, we feel fearful and condemned and may run from the One who loves us most.  It doesn't matter though, because we can't escape the arms of Love!

"So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart.  But it is the other way about; He is looking for us.  And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from Him, in high rebellion against Him.  and He knows that and has taken it into account.  He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought to finally escape Him, we run straight into His arms.  So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation.  Our hope is in His determination to save us, and He will not give in."

                                                                     Simon Tugwell

God, thank you so much for being with me in the darkness, for showering Your love on me in those dark places; wherever I turn, I run into Your arms because You are with me and in me and holding on to me forever!  You never leave, NEVER!  Thank you that You never leave any of us! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Because of His Finished Work....

I thought this quote really sums up what God has done for us through and because of Christ's work.  What He did has made us complete - completely new, completely forgiven, completely righteous, completely alive, completely accepted, completely united with Him!

Here's the quote:

By faith we rest in what God has already done in the unseen and eternal realm within us.  He has made us His holy, blameless, irreproachable children.  He has made us the righteousness of God in Christ.  Our old man died with Christ.  We have been raised with Christ as completely new creations, born of God's Spirit.  He has made us perfect in His sight.  There is no condemnation.  He has become one with our spirit, through which He manifests His life to the world.
                                                                             
                                                          from "The Rest of the Gospel"
                                                                   by Dan Stone

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grace Falls Like Rain

Grace comes to us when we're at our worst.  It comes to us when we don't believe, when we run or turn away, when we go downward rather than upward.  For grace is not based on anything we do - we don't have to do anything to deserve it, even believe it.

Grace falls on us, the undeserving.  It falls down like rain .  It soaks us in love.  For that is what grace is.  It's love and acceptance that come to us no matter what we've done, no matter where we've gone, no matter what we've become.

Grace comes to us no matter what....

To the praise of His glorious grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Already There

I don't have to struggle to get somewhere I've already arrived - His presence!
I don't have to strive to get something I've already been given - His righteousness!
I don't have to try to become someone I've already become - His beloved!

I'm already loved, accepted, made new, and home!

Nowhere to go.  Nothing to get.  Nothing to become.

We are complete already in Him, through His finished work!  He's already done it all (taken away all our sin and made us righteous new creations in fellowship with Him), so we can just rest and enjoy this great relationship with God...

"You have arrived at your destination:  by faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God"  (Gal 3:26 Message Bible).

"There is nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of His face" (2 Co. 3:18a Message Bible).

"So you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ" (Col. 2:10, Living Bible).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What's Right With You

Why do we tend to focus on what is wrong with us?  Why not focus on what is right with us?  It's much more uplifting and encouraging!

Here's a wonderful quote from Lydia over at "A Joy To Be Me" blog about this very topic:

Do I really need to know what's wrong with me?  Cause honestly I already know I am human! Duh! I mean honestly, how many of us deep down, truly truly know, in this life, in this world, that we are not perfect? Or already scrutinize ourselves to the point of grief and despair. Should we not be taking the stance that declares what is right with us, thanks to Christ's work on the cross? WELL?? Isn't that the point of the Gospel, the GOOD NEWS??  To declare to all mankind the redemptive work of Christ to set us free in Him!! To give us a new nature!! And have God himself, declare us as righteous, spotless, perfect forever!! WELL, HUH???

God is not counting my sins against me, nor is he to you. The cross wiped that all out once and for all. So why is it, that Christians all across the globe focus on what is wrong with them and how to fix it?? Why?

...Christ - paid the price - for all sin - for all time! Once and done. He IS our defense!! And you know what - Jesus is NOT a fault finding husband. No siree!! So if he is accepting me fully and completely and God is NOT counting my sins against me, then no one should. 
...why focus on faults that God has dealt with satisfactorily to him. Why, fix your eyes on what the Cross has redeemed and removed? Why?
I will focus on what God declares is right with me, and that is my life is hid in Christ! I am in Him and He is in me! It's Christ in me the hope of glory. It is a union now. He and me united as one! I mean how amazing is that! How reveling and wonderful and freeing is HIS truth - His declaration over my life, as well as the spiritual truth of me being joined with Christ!!! Hallelujah!!!
                                                              Lydia, "A Joy To Be Me"

It's Okay To Be Broken

I have wanted to have a blog for quite a while.  The process of writing my own thoughts or even copying down the thoughts of others helps me to think about things and understand them better.  And I also wanted to share some wonderful things God has shown me about His love and grace, for I wish the WHOLE world knew the good news of God's acceptance of us just as we are because of what Jesus did for all of us on the cross!

But at the same time I felt very hesitant to start sharing through a blog.  How could I share about these great truths of grace when I was still seeking to understand them myself?  And how could I act as if I had some spiritual knowledge to share when I myself still had many imperfections and struggles?  I think I felt I must "have it all together" before I could share anything spiritual with others...

But the truth is, I will never have it all together down here on this planet!  And the message of grace is specifically that I am accepted and loved and perfect for God even IN my "not together" state.  I'm okay with Him, not because of my getting my act together or figuring everything out spiritually, but because of Jesus doing something amazing on the cross and in the resurrection.  He took away my "not together-ness" on the cross and my sins and flaws are GONE!  And He says that I'm alright with Him forever.

So I am going to just share out of my brokenness.  Sometimes I get confused, sometimes I get down, sometimes I fail.  But because of a little word called GRACE, I just have to share what God has taught me.  I just have to share that we are all loved and accepted.  I just have to share that His face toward us wears a smile, not an angry glare.  I just have to share that all of our sins, those of the whole world, have been taken away by Jesus on the cross, where He got rid of everything that ever could have kept us away from Him.  I just have to share that there is no barrier between us and God, that He's our friend.  I just have to share that He sees every human being as a precious little child of great worth.  I just have to share it, even through my own brokenness and my own struggle to sometimes believe it, because IT'S TRUE and it's the best message in the world! 

So I guess it's okay to be broken, because in Jesus, no matter how broken I am, I am whole because of Him!  His love has made me whole!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Unlosable Joy

Have you ever gone through an earthly circumstance that left you reeling, feeling your world will never be the same?   Circumstances in this world can get us down and make us feel we'll never be carefree again.  I have felt that way.  But God showed me recently that no matter what happens in this life, I am still in His joy, which can never be stolen away.  It's an inner joy with Him that is there no matter what.  I didn't put it there and I don't keep it there - it's simply the joy of Jesus inside me, the joy of a perfect relationship with Him that He has set up by His perfect work.

Circumstances here can be bad, even irreversible, and emotions can go up and down, but my joy in Jesus never changes!  That joy is not dependent on how I feel or on what's happening in this world.  Nothing can take away my joy in Christ!  He is my joy and in Him I have an untouchable, permanent joy that can't be removed.  In Him is childlike joy; I have child-like joy with Him inside right now, no matter what's going on outside!  What a relief!  I can be a child again with wide-eyed wonder. I AM that child again and I have joy - Jesus is my joy!  I am always that carefree child in His arms, laughing and feeling as light as air.  My joy is His joy in me, His delight in me.  That perfect relationship of total acceptance and love, and all that He's done in His finished work to bring that to pass, brings me joy!

Because of His complete acceptance of us, we don't have to wear a mask and try to always look happy.  We can be real and admit that sometimes we feel rotten and that sometimes life here stinks.  And He will rejoice with us when we rejoice and weep with us when we weep.  And because of that same gracious acceptance of us, we can know that our relationship with Him is absolutely unchanged no matter what our feelings or hardships or even failures may be.  And that brings an amazing and lasting joy.  That is what I am talking about:  not that we never can have problems or be "down", but that we are always a child in His arms no matter what happens.  And when this life here stinks and we feel we may never smile again, it's so nice to know our relationship with Him is still of that sweet little child spinning around in His embrace.  No problem here can ever take the joy of that perfect relationship away!  And one day every earthly tear will be gone, too, and our spiritual, eternal joy in Him will invade and overtake the physical realm!

"I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy noone will take from you." (John 16:22)


 “Joy”

The Newsboys


You give me joy that’s unspeakable
And I like it, and I like it
Your love for me is irresistible
I can't fight it, I can't fight it

                      
If life is water I was dry and Tucson dirt
If it’s a gamble I'd already lost my shirt
If it’s a journey I was dazed without a clue
I flipped a "U" back to the first love I ever knew


You give me joy that’s unspeakable
And I like it, and I like it
Your love for me is irresistible
I can't fight it, I can't fight it
You carried the cross and took my shame
I believe it, I believe it
You shine your light of amazing grace
I receive it, I receive it

                 
If life's a battle the invasion is complete
If it’s a rhythm I have found the perfect beat
If it’s a Renaissance I've got a new birthday
The world don't give it and the world can't take it away


I'm bowed and broken, everything's new
All that I need, your like water to seed
And how your love rights everything wrong
In my weakness you’re ever stronger
Pulling me back where I belong


You give me joy that's unspeakable
And I like it, and I like it
Your love for me's irresistible
I can't fight it, I can't fight it
You carried the cross and took my shame
I believe it, I believe it
You shine your light of amazing grace
I receive it, I receive it

Thursday, September 3, 2009

God's New Covenant Promises To Us

It's amazing the wonderful promises God has made to us in the New Covenant.  Many of these are found in the prophecies about the New Covenant in Isaiah and Jeremiah.  The New Covenant of grace hadn't even arrived yet, and already it was glorious!  So many of these promises make me say "Wow! That's really in the Bible?  How come I never saw that before?"

God promises us in His New Covenant of grace:

I've never quit loving you and never will (Jer. 31).
You'll never disappear from before Me (Jer 31).
I'll never turn My back on you, disgusted with all you've done (Jer. 31).
I've wiped the slate clean for you (Jer. 31).
I have put My law within you, written it on your heart (Jer. 31).
I have made you of one mind and heart, always honoring Me (Jer. 32).
I'll stick with you no matter what, and work for your good (Jer. 32).
I've planted you in this country [Me, My rest] and will keep you there (Jer. 32).
You know Me firsthand (Jer. 31).
I've made a covenant with you that will last forever (Jer. 32).
I'll delight in doing good things for you (Jer. 32)!
I've filled your heart with a deep respect for Me so you'll never even think of turning away from Me (Jer. 32).
I will make sure you get plenty of rest (Ezek. 34).
I am your Bridegroom (Is. 54)!
I have welcomed you back (Is. 54)!
With lasting love I'm caring for you (Is. 54).
My covenant commitment of peace won't fall apart (Is. 54).
My love won't walk away from you (Is. 54).

The new covenant of grace is just so good...it seems too good to be true.  And if it seems too good to be true, it must be the gospel!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Are For Me

You are my faithful Father
Who holds everything together
Why should I fear when You are always on my side?
I am known as the apple of Your eye
The treasure You gave Your life for
Oh, nothing can separate me
From Your perfect love

You are my strong defender
Who shelters my life from danger
Why should I fear when You are always on my side?
I'm anointed with oil and in this life
I'm followed by mercy and goodness
Oh, nothing can separate me
From Your perfect love

You prepare a table for me
In the presence of my enemies
All the time Your thoughts are on me
And You hold me when I'm weak

You are for me on the mountain
You are for me in the battle
Through the failures, in the victories,
You are for me, Hallelujah

In the morning, in the evening
When I'm dancing, when I'm weeping
Through the storms I won't be shaken
You are for me, Hallelujah

If my God is for me,
Who can be against me?

If my God is for me,
Who can be against me?

                                                                 Kelanie Gloeckler

Since grace (God's favor, God being for us) is free and doesn't have to be earned in any way, this song is for all of us!  We all "qualify" for grace, since there are no "qualifications" for it.  We can shout with confidence that God is on our side and wishes us well.  And it's true whether we're up or down, succeeding or failing, in good times or bad.   God is for us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Lightness of Grace

Here are some quotes by Lewis Smedes (author of the book Shame and Grace).  He talks about the good news being the message that God accepts us as we are.  He also speaks of the lightness of grace.  I like that idea.  The true gospel of grace makes us feel lighter, not heavier; it removes burdens and brings rest to our souls rather than weighing us down and tiring us out.  Grace gives us the lightest feeling in the world!  Here are the quotes:

The mystery is that God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to Himself....He [Jesus, in His death and resurrection] was about the business of making it right for us at the core of life.  He let it be known to all, once and for all, that when we are confronted by the God who made us and holds us in His hands, we are facing a God who loves us and wants our good.

The flagship word of the gospel is grace.  No wonder, for grace is shorthand for God wishing us well.

....shame depresses; grace lifts.  shame is like gravity, a psychic force that pulls us down.  grace is like levitation, a spiritual force that defies gravity [and lifts us up].

The lightness of grace ...sets loose the lightest feeling of life: being accepted:  totally, unreservedly accepted.

Grace is the gift of being accepted before we become acceptable.

Grace heals our shame...by removing the one thing all our shame makes us fear the most:  rejection.  Nothing will keep God from accepting us.

God accepts us with our shadows and all the ogres who live inside of them.

The message we get from God is the message we are aching to hear: you are accepted.

Grace overcomes shame by simply accepting us, the whole of us, with no regard to our beauty or our ugliness, our virtue or our vices.  We are accepted wholesale.  Accepted with no possibility of being rejected.  Accepted once and accepted forever.  Accepted at the ultimate depth of our being.

There is a weightlessness about grace.  It has the feel of a fairy tale; what makes it a very special fairy tale is that it is true.
                                                                          Lewis Smedes
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