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!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Through His Eyes of Love

Somewhere someone can't go on
Giving up, their hope is gone
Somewhere there's a heart that cries
Where everything is seen through sorrow's eyes.

It doesn't matter lonely one
Where you've been
Or what you've done
'Cause He can make a miracle
Change your life
To something beautiful!

Through His eyes of love
See yourself the way He does
Through His eyes of love
You're perfect through His eyes of love...

Sad is the song you sing
So sad, and lonely, the feeling
And oh, how His love can bring
Such healing,
There's healing....

Through His eyes of love
See yourself the way He does
Through His eyes of love
You're perfect through His eyes of love!

                                                           Steve Archer

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The God Who Believes In You

I watched a short video today that was so freeing to me.  The man in the video was talking about a fellow pastor, and how that pastor would believe in people even when they failed.  When they blew it and others rejected them, this man would stick with them and continue to support them.  When others spoke only words of condemnation and criticism, this man continued to speak words of affirmation to the person.  The speaker said that his friend had treated him in the same way when he failed.  He believed in him and supported him.  What a wonderful picture of grace!

That is just how the Bible portrays Jesus.  He believed in people, supported them in spite of their sin.  He treated Judas with the same love and support as the other 11 disciples.  He didn't reject people when they failed.  He tended to minister to the burned out, broken, and messed up types.  These people felt love and acceptance from Jesus instead of blame and accusation.

It meant so much to watch that video today.  Why?  Because I am often the burned out, messed up person in need of grace.  To know that Jesus won't reject me, even then - that He will keep supporting me and believing in me, keep accepting and delighting in me, even when I'm down - just means so much!

Grace is for failures and burnouts, for those who don't measure up and never will.  It's for the bound, the confused, the doubtful, and the troubled.  It's for the people other Christians write off as not useful or successful.  It's for me.  It's for us all!

Grace is the loving voice of Jesus whispering to us: I love you just the way you are!  You're My beloved!  I embrace you right now!  I've already dealt with all the "messed up" things about you, so let's just enjoy looking into each other's eyes right now!

I need to hear that every day!  Thank You, God, that grace is for me, too, right here, right now...

Friday, October 9, 2009

How He Loves

Here's a great quote I read today:

"Why does Jesus love ME?  He never criticizes, never tells me that I have to change to be loved by Him.  He just loves me right where I am, no matter what I'm doing or not doing.  It's amazing.  Sometimes I don't even love me, but He does."
                                                          Steve McVey

This means a lot because to be honest, sometimes I don't love or even like me.  Sometimes I act rather un-grace-full.  Sometimes my personality drives me crazy.  Sometimes I wish I could stop being me and be someone else.  But Jesus loves me!

He loves us all.  Passionately, freely, abundantly, and everlastingly.  Without change, without condition, without regret, and without end.  With no hidden agenda, with no strings attached, with no ulterior motive.  Joyfully, wastefully, hopefully, beautifully!  That's how He loves!

So often when I feel that nagging feeling that I'm just not good enough for grace, that there must be some barrier I have to jump over to get His love, He reminds me grace is really true.  This love is really WITHOUT CONDITION, and no matter how rotten I feel about myself and my performance or even my faith level, this love is given FOR FREE.  It's already mine, and mine forever!  And it is the birthright of every human being.  Every person is unconditionally loved by God!  No matter how we see ourselves, I am so glad He looks at us through the eyes of perfect love!

" matter how hateful we are to ourselves, we are not hateful to God."                                                  Thomas Merton                                  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Come Just As You Are

Come just as you are
Hear the Spirit call
Come just as you are
Come and see
Come receive
Come and live forever

Life Everlasting
Strength for today
Taste the living water
And never thirst again

Come and see
Come receive
Come and live forever

Come just as you are
Don't you hear the Spirit call?
Come just as you are
Come and see
Christ My King
Come and live forever more

                                                Crystal Lewis

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

A post by Joel over at Grace Roots has inspired me to think about the statement "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.." (Rom. 1:16).

The real gospel - grace - is powerful to save!  I want to be unashamed to say what the true gospel is - that by grace God accepts everyone as they are, because of the finished work of Christ, not because of any of our own righteousness, and that acceptance is a purely free gift with no strings attached.  We receive the gift - and the very life of Christ - by simply believing this news!

The old so-called "gospel" that I heard or believed in my legalistic days is truly one to be ashamed of.  It said I had to jump through hoops to get the favor of God, had to perform to be accepted, had to do it all on my own to be worthy.  It disdained anyone coming as they were, with no requirements put on them at all.  It never freed people from the law; it simply bound them under new "Christian laws".  It saw grace as heresy.

I actually read in a Christian magazine once that the idea that God accepts people as they are is "heresy".  What?  The idea that God accepts people as they are is THE GOSPEL!  This statement in the magazine broke my heart, because it seemed the writer was so bound up in law-thinking that the true gospel seemed like heresy to him! 

I wish that the whole world knew how loved they are by God, that they can come just as they are to Him and know they ALREADY have His full acceptance and love.  No clean up required before OR after their coming.  The gift of life and righteousness is so free it's ridiculous, and it goes right on being free after we're saved - no changes or improvement required then, either.  The whole point is to walk through life now with a Real Friend, someone who has been our friend from all eternity!  A friend named Jesus who will live inside can't get a closer Friend than that!

I am not ashamed to say that God accepts me just as I am!

I am not ashamed to say that Jesus gave me His righteousness for free as a gift without me doing a thing - I just grabbed that present and grinned!

I am not ashamed to say that the whole wide world is reconciled to God - made friends, totally forgiven - by the cross of Christ without them lifting one finger!

I am not ashamed to say that all the world stands completely forgiven because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, and no sacrifice on their part is ever required for that to be true - it already IS true!

I am not ashamed to say that Jesus loves me as I am, not as I should be in my thinking!

I am not ashamed to say that every child of God is perfect before Him right now no matter how they blew it yesterday or will blow it tomorrow!

I am not ashamed to say that as a child of God I am not under the law at all and am free from all demands and requirements and rules.

I may not understand grace completely, but I know one thing: law-based living and the performance "gospel" STINKS!  I'm sticking with the beautiful "heresy" of grace that freed me with the power of God called LOVE...that said to me "Come just as you are!  All is forgiven; come into My arms forever!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

We Are Never Out of the Reach of Grace

Can we ever sin so much that grace stops coming to us?  Can we ever get so confused and doubtful that we are out of His grace?  Could we ever backslide into wrong thinking so far that grace doesn't reach us anymore?  The tendency after every failure is to think, well, He was with me when I was strong in faith, but now that I've blown it, I guess He's gone (or disappointed, or not as favorable toward me).  I have felt that way.  But is that the truth?

I don't believe we can ever out-sin grace.  Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.  All our doubts, confusion, wrong thinking and failures mean absolutely nothing in light of grace's presence.  After all, every sin and failure, every doubt and wrong belief was taken to the cross and nailed there.  Sin just doesn't do a thing to grace.  It doesn't change God's view of us one bit.  We are accepted because of what Jesus did and nothing we do or don't do changes what He did.  His record continues to stand: sins taken away, old self killed off, freedom won, reconciliation made, forgiveness granted, acceptance granted.

We can't go too far for grace to reach us.  His unconditional love reaches us wherever we are, no matter what failure we've experienced, no matter how many times we've gone back to the confusion of law or fleshly ideas.  We are safe forever and can't get away from this wonderful grace!  "If I make my bed in hell, You are there."

He and His grace and love will hold us.  He will hold us when we're faithful and when we're not.  He will hold us when we're acting right and when we're acting wrong.  He will hold us when we're clearly understanding grace and when we're confused and in doubt.  He will hold us still!  His loving favor doesn't depend on me!  It never did.  I only sometimes thought it did.  I didn't do anything to get Him to love and grace me, and I don't do anything to get Him to keep on loving and gracing me!

Thank You, God, for your love that won't go away no matter what!  Thank you that no matter what my failure or doubt, nothing changes in our relationship.  You are the same faithful love yesterday, today, and tomorrow!  We are always under Your waterfall of grace, always soaked in love!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reason for Rejoicing

 1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

 3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

 6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

 9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

                                                            from Romans 5
                                                        (The Message Bible)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Compassion of Jesus

Jesus says in effect:  "Come to Me.  Come now.  Don't wait until you have your act cleaned up and your head on straight.  Don't delay until you think you are properly disposed and free of pride and lust, jealousy and self-hatred.   Come to me in your brokenness and sinfulness, with all your fears and insecurities, and I will comfort you.  I will come to you right where you live and love you just the way you are, and not the way you think you should be."

                                                from A Glimpse of Jesus
                                                  by Brennan Manning
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