Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blessings of the New Covenant

Jeremiah 31:31-34
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 32:37-41
"Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul."

Ezekiel 36:24-28
"For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God."

Here are some blessings of the New Covenant that I see in these passages:

1 -  He's our God and we're His people.  In Him is belonging and acceptance.

2 -  We all know Him; we're not trying to know Him, we already do.  In Him is relationship.

3 -  He's forgiven all our sin and we are clean.  In Him is total forgiveness.

4 -  Our sin is remembered no more; it won't be brought up ever again!  In Him is release and freedom.

5 -  He's written His law on our minds and hearts (not a little Ten Commandments tablet inside but the very life and righteous nature of Christ within).  In Him is righteousness.

6 - He's put His Spirit inside us, so we are never alone.  In Him is companionship.

7 -  We have a new heart, a good nature that won't turn away from Him.  In Him is holiness.

8 -  He causes us to walk in His ways.  In Him is holy living and fruit.

9 -  He won't turn away from us.  In Him is security.

10 - He rejoices over us to do us good.  In Him is celebration and blessing.

11 - He'll dwell in and with us forevermore!  In Him is union!

12 - We're safe!  In Him is protection.

13 - He gathers us and brings us in, He does it all.  In Him is care and rest.

14 - He feeds us abundantly and we'll never lack.  In Him is satisfaction.

15 - He put a new spirit within us and put His Spirit within us.  In Him is Life!

We have been taken out of the realm of sin, condemnation and death and put into the realm of righteousness, acceptance, and life!  What a wonderful covenant we live under!  It is amazing, this life we have in Him!

                        With love,

Monday, March 29, 2010

We Live By Grace

Grace is the best thing going!  And not only are we saved by grace, but we also live by it as well!  Grace really undergirds the whole Christian life, and everything happens in the Christian life by grace.  I did a little study of the word "grace" in the New Testament recently, and I was amazed at how this is so.  We truly live this whole Christian life by grace.

Grace keeps sin from reigning over us (Rom. 6:14) and instead makes us reign in life (Rom. 6:17).  It causes us to labor and labors in us (1 Co. 15:10).  By grace we have (Rom.  12:6) and use spiritual gifts, and we minister by grace as stewards of the grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10).  Grace makes us strong with His strength when we are weak (2 Co. 12:9), and helps us when we are in time of need; in fact knowing He's gracious gives us boldness to approach Him for help in those needy times (Heb. 4:16).  

By grace we serve God acceptably (Heb. 12:28).  Being established in grace helps us not be confused by false doctrine (Heb. 13:9).  We stand in grace (Rom. 5:2), conduct ourselves in grace (2 Co. 1:12), continue in grace (Acts 13:43), are built up in grace (Acts 20:32), grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18), and are strong in grace (2 Tim 2:1).  Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and live righteously (Tit. 2:11-12).  By grace we have faith, knowledge, diligence, love, and generosity (2 Co. 8:7).  And because of grace we have an abundance for every good work (2 Co. 9:8).

Grace makes us know how to answer people, and our words impart grace; in fact, edification is actually imparting grace to people!  (Eph. 4:29).   Grace causes thanksgiving and brings glory to God (2 Co. 4:15).  We worship with grace in our hearts (Col. 3:16).  Grace consoles us and gives us hope (2 Th. 2:16).  We hope for the grace to come (1 Pet. 1:13), as we're heirs of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7).  God actually saved us to show us grace and kindness forever (Eph. 2:7)!

His grace is all over us, around us, under us, before us, and in us.  Grace is just Jesus Himself loving us, living in us, and working in us without our having to deserve it.  He freely blesses us!  We're carried along in His arms of grace today, and that grace is sufficient for all of our lives (2 Co. 12:9).  We live by grace, live by the Spirit, live in the New Covenant where all is gift!

                         With love,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ocean Waves And Grace

When I was a child my family used to enjoy vacations at the beach.  My dad was an early riser, and he loved to go out and walk on the beach at sunrise and look for shark's teeth along the shore.  Now I loved to be with my daddy, and often he would wake me up while it was still half-dark to go with him on these early morning walks.  Some of my favorite memories are of those walks on the beach with my dad.  We just walked and looked at the sun rising over the waves.  He would show me where I could find shark's teeth (once I even found one that was an inch long - yes, I'm bragging), and I would look for my favorite shells, the ones with the pretty little spots on them.  Dad would try to capture the sunrise on film, and we would walk for a long way down the uncrowded beach.

It was peaceful and perfect.  I felt like I could look at that sea forever, with the sunshine dancing like diamonds on its shimmery surface.  The sound of the waves coming ashore was so soothing and just went on forever.  The waves just relentlessly caressed the sand...

Grace is, to me, like those sea waves.  Grace always comes to us.  Just like a person standing in the waves of the sea, we stand in His grace and it washes over us and over us and over us.  It's a never ending and constant supply.  His grace and love and presence are more than sufficient for every situation we face, every need we have, every day we live.  The grace we were saved by His the grace we live by, and His grace will never fail.  Grace always comes to us, as steady and sure as the waves rolling in upon the shore.  It can never be stopped, it can never be diminished, it can never be diverted.  At our lowest point, it will still wash over us!  His grace always comes to us.  We are standing and wading and running and diving and floating in the sea of His grace!

Grace to me is just the unconditional love and acceptance of God expressed in Jesus through His finished work.  He pours grace on us to show us it's safe to approach Him, safe to confide in Him, safe to trust Him.  He pours it on us to show us that we're reconciled and there's nothing standing between us because of the cross.  He  pours it on us to show us that we don't have to deserve His love.  He pours it on us so we can be one with Him in perfect fellowship, and He makes every day special because He loves us.  He's our Father and friend.  He loves to be with us and just walk through life with us, and as Brennan Manning says, just being together is an end in itself.  We are blessed to walk through the waves of grace with our Heavenly Daddy always!

Running through the waves of grace with Jesus today...

                         With love,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Out of Darkness

I could live a thousand years
Never earn a moment of Your grace
Even in my darkest day
You shine on me
You shine on me

And out of the darkness
You brought me into Your glorious light
Saved from the death I was facing
Rejoicing in the future, a hope that is mine

The greatest of all gifts
From the greatest of all givers
Jesus there upon the cross
True love displayed for all to see

And your grace runs after me
Runs after me
Everyday of my life
And your mercies they never fail
They never fail
Everyday of my life

                                                Tim Hughes

Flying Free

Una Paloma Blanca

When the sun shines on the mountain
And the night is on the run
It's a new day
It's a new way
And I fly up to the sun

I can feel the morning sunlight
I can smell the new-mown hay
I can hear God's voice is calling
For my golden sky light way

Una paloma blanca
I'm just a bird in the sky
Una paloma blanca
Over the mountains I fly
No one can take my freedom away

Once I had my share of losing
for they locked me on a chain
Yes they tried to break my power
oh I still can feel the pain

Una paloma blanca
I'm just a bird in the sky
Una paloma blanca
Over the mountains I fly
No one can take my freedom away

                                                  George Baker

I loved this oldie as a child!  And I love the grace message in it..We are free in Him today, and nothing can take that freedom away!  We are free from sin, condemnation, guilt, punishment, rejection, pressure to measure up or perform, law, requirements and rules we couldn't ever keep, the old self, the old way of life - we are free!  Free to dance, sing, and fly in His grace!  Free to enjoy His loving presence, free to fail and know we're still accepted, free to love ourselves and just let ourselves be, free to love others and just let them be!  Grace is so wonderful!  Nothing can take His love, favor, and acceptance away!  Nothing can take HIM away from our hearts!  We soar free in Jesus today!  We're like white, clean, pure doves flying in the sky on Spirit wings, and noone can take that freedom away!  "Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you" (Gal. 5:1).  I'm just a bird in the sky...

                       With love,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free To Just Be

We don't have to be anything.  We don't have to be wise.  We don't have to be strong.  We don't have to be beautiful.  We don't have to be tough.  We don't have to be courageous.  We don't have to be energetic.  We don't have to be anything.

We are free to just be ourselves.  We are free to just be whatever we are right at this moment.  We are free to let go of trying, let go of struggling to improve or be something different than we are.  We are free to feel, to laugh or cry, to understand or be confused.  We are free to fail. We are free to be honest and realize we don't have it all together.  And we don't have to.

Jesus is the One that matters.  He's the One who has to have is all together, and He does!  He is the One who is wise, strong, beautiful, tough, courageous, energetic.  He is all of that for us and in us and as us.  He has made us all those things in Him anyway whether we feel that way or not.  Nothing can change that.  Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are not the deepest thing about us - HE is the deepest thing about us!  We can just be and find that He IS in the midst of our "stuff."  He will speak to us and minister to us and love us and accept us and delight in us right where we are!   He won't ever let go of us, we're safe with Him just as we are, no matter what.  His Life will be there no matter what, a constant spring of living water.

One thing I love about grace is that He takes us as we are.  We don't have to try to look good, ever.  It's great to be honest and let down all pretenses and just be, knowing nothing is required of us and no heavy burdens are placed on us.  We are not required to be perfect and lovely and smart and godly - we are accepted as we are.  Yet the paradox is that He has made us all those things already inside!  He has made our inner life with Him perfect already and we can rest in that, whether our outer life matches the inner one or not.  He's taking care of our life.  We can just be.  We can be honest and naked before Him, for He is a safe place to be, a place of acceptance.  Real acceptance!

Jesus is okay with us.  Right now, as we are, whatever we are feeling, thinking or even doing.  And we are okay before Him.  We are okay in Him.  We can just be.

                         With love,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We See Grace

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

                                                               John 1:12-18

Jesus has declared to us who God really is and what He is really like.  We see the nature of God, the glory of God, in the face of Jesus.  When we look on His face, we see GRACE!  Not anger, frustration, harshness, coldness, condemnation or disappointment but GRACE.  The law condemned our sin, but in Jesus there is NO condemnation, only acceptance in the Beloved!  Jesus is FULL of grace and truth.  And we've received of that fullness, we've received GRACE.  We are graced today.  God is for us, favors us, is on our side.  I'm His favorite and so are you!  We look at this day through the lens of grace, knowing we are held, loved, understood, accepted, lifted up, GRACED!

                            With love,

Peter, Peter

Lately, I have come to identify with Peter in the Bible.  I don't think my personality is much like him - he seemed much bolder and more of a leader than I am.  Yet there is something about him that is similar to me:  he tends to make grand sweeping statements about his faith and then proceeds to fall flat on his face.  That's me!  I say I believe in grace and know God accepts me no matter what, that I'm not under law and live freely.  The next thing I know, I'm failing at something, comparing my performance to someone else's and feeling sin-conscious, condemned and confused rather than remembering I'm accepted!  Aaarrgh! 

That's when I identify with Peter.  He really felt he would never deny Christ.  He was so sure of the passion in his heart for Jesus.  Yet he turned around and denied Jesus three times.  And Jesus looked at Peter...You know when I read that in my past law-based days, I always saw that as a disappointed, I-told-you-so kind of look.  But I think it was a love gaze, really.  There's a quote by Brennan Manning that really speaks to me about this very moment in Peter's life:

"Peter knew that no man had ever loved him or no woman could ever love him as Jesus did.  The Man whom he confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, AND LOVED HIM.  The love of Jesus for Peter lay in his complete and unconditional acceptance of him."

Jesus looked on Peter and loved him.  He knew he would deny Him.  It was no surprise to Him that Peter failed.  Yet that fact didn't change Jesus' love and acceptance of Peter one bit.  He gazed on him with love and Peter melted and wept.

After the resurrection, the disciples and Jesus were having breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.  Now in my old way of thinking, I always saw this as Jesus convicting Peter of his sin, reminding him that he'd denied Christ three times and really needed to work on his love quotient.  I saw it under law, I suppose, as Christ calling Peter to be better, do better, love better.  But now I see it differently.  Jesus knew what was in Peter's heart.  He knew Peter loved Him.  But maybe Peter didn't know it.  Maybe he still felt guilty about those denials and unsure of his own heart.  And so I see those three questions as Jesus' way of assuring Peter that he did love Him and that Jesus Himself knew that.  He saw the good in Peter that he himself couldn't see.  He even saw the future, that he would be ministering the life of Christ to others.  He affirmed him and built him up.

This is exactly how I feel Jesus is with me and with all of us.  We all fail.  But Jesus gazes on us with love.  He already knows about those failures.  They are no surprise to Him, and He is not disappointed in us.  He knows that we will fail.  And He's taken away all those failures onto the cross and they are NO MORE.  They are gone and forgotten, out of His sight and out of His mind.  He's made us new creations with His righteousness as our own.  He sees us complete, whole, perfect, new, right and lovely.  For we are in Him, and He is all those things and has made us all those things.  He tenderly shows us what is in our heart.  It isn't evil or dirty as we may sometimes suspect if we consider our failings.  No, it is beautiful, clean, pure, and new.  Filled with Him.  His heart pulses within our own and as our own.  His love pulses there with every beat.  He shows us that we ARE okay with Him, we ARE love because the One who IS love is our very Life now.  He shows us the beautiful creations we now ARE in Him and that the Life of Christ IS oozing out of us to others!

So yes, I fall flat on my face sometimes.  So what?  Jesus has taken care of that sin already and given me His perfect righteousness and even given me Himself.  And I'm not a yucky sinner anymore - that person died on the cross with Christ.  I'm a new creation, filled with His resurrection life and with His very love bursting from my heart.  I can stop thinking about my performance for He loves me as I am.  He gazes on me with love and accepts me, whether I'm flat on my face or jumping with joy in His grace.  And that's true for all of us who are in Him!

He's looking at us with love today, gazing upon us with delight!  And in those eyes of love, we are perfectly lovely to Him!

                           With love,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Freed From The Law To Live By His Life

 1-2With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
 3-4God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
   The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
 5-6Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.

                                                                From Romans 8
                                                                The Message

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trying To Keep The Law - A Testimony

It seems for most of my Christian life, I was literally obsessed with keeping the law.  I realized that law couldn't save me.  I saw that only Jesus could do that.  But I seemed to think that law could make me a better, more acceptable person now that I was saved.  I truly thought that was what the Christian life was all about - about me trying harder, doing more good and less evil, getting better, improving myself.

I managed to turn every single thing in my Christian life into a law.  Being filled with the Spirit, having faith, witnessing, Bible study, prayer, church attendance, overcoming sin, everything became something I was somehow supposed to "do" to make myself a better Christian.  Of course the problem with living by law (thinking we have to do something to get closer to God, be better, get blessed, make spiritual progress, or be more accepted by God) is that by law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20).  Law points out our sin and we become sin-conscious.  And another problem is that law condemns those who sin; it's the ministry of condemnation (2Co. 3:9).  So here I was trying so hard not to sin and yet seeing all this sin every time I failed to keep some rule or principle of the Christian life, and then feeling condemned because of it.  Scripture even says Law kills (2 Co. 3:6)!  Well, I certainly felt like it was killing me trying - and failing- to live by this self-improvement program I'd set up for myself.

It was a self-defeating cycle, for I would try to keep all these rules for Christian living in the hopes of sinning less, yet the Bible says the power of sin is the law (1 Co. 15:56)!  By trying to follow those principles and try to improve myself and resist sin, I was only stirring up sin and empowering it in my life!  I was trying hard to do better, failing, and feeling like I was a disappointment to God. I felt "far from God" and like I was letting Him down.  No matter how hard I tried to keep the rules, I couldn't do so, for the law only tells us what to do; it gives no power to actually do those things. I felt I was never good enough, never really acceptable to God.  Was this the Christian life?  If it was, I was a failure at it.  It was terrible living in this way, and my heart goes out to all who have suffered from a performance-based mindset. 

Then grace overwhelmed me and God showed me He accepted me just as I was and that at salvation, He'd given me the gift of righteousness - right and acceptable relationship with Him (2 Co. 5:21, Eph. 1:6)!  What a relief to find out I'd been acceptable to God all along.  I didn't need to try to improve myself in order to get more accepted or get more blessed or get Him on my side or get right with Him  - I already had all those things by grace through faith in Christ.  (Oh, that every person would see this wonderful grace of God on them and enjoy His acceptance freely given in Jesus!  We never have to earn or work to maintain what He has freely given us in Christ.  All who are burdened and heavy-laden from trying to live right or be righteous can come to Him and rest..)

He showed me something else, too.  He showed me I wasn't under the law and didn't even need it!  I was now under grace, which meant unconditional acceptance!  No matter how many times I failed, I wouldn't be called a transgressor because there was no law to transgress (Rom. 4:15)!  And if I was not ever a transgressor (law-breaker), then I was also not ever condemned!  This made me feel so light and free, and it was reality - I was free from the law and had been since I'd first believed.  The weight of all those "shoulds" and "musts", all those commands that I could never live up to, the burden that neither I nor anyone except Jesus could bear (Acts 15:10) was truly gone!  I had been living in the fog of performance-based thinking when all along I was free to soar in the clear blue sky with Christ!  All this time I'd been living under the old covenant in trying to make my Christian life work. I guess I'd had the Galatian Syndrome (Gal. 3:3).  I had seen the law wouldn't save me, but I hadn't understood it wouldn't sanctify or grow me up either!  It didn't produce life and it didn't maintain or manifest that life either!

Now God showed me I was out from under law completely and under grace.  In grace there is the law of liberty or law of the Spirit of life in Christ.  Now, I don't have this completely figured out, but it seems to me that the law of liberty means you are at liberty - free!  It's a law of freedom from law!  And it's a law where the Spirit of life is now operating, moving and maintaining and manifesting life from within.  To me, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ is that if I have Christ within, I am alive because of His righteousness in me and totally free from law (Rom. 8:1-2, 10).  I am righteous, not trying to get righteous.  I'm out of the Law realm and into the Life realm, for I died to the law that I might be raised to new life with Christ (Gal. 2:19-20).  Life is within me, and that is the operating force now, not an external law.  His Life, which is Love, is now my nature and compels me from within to love (2 Co. 5:14).  So all things are lawful (1 Co. 10:22-23), yet I find myself wanting to do what is beneficial to all - which is LOVE!

God is so wonderful!  It's exhilarating and a little disconcerting even to be free from law.  I am used to having exact rules on what to do and what not to do.  I've felt that those rules were keeping me in line.  Now that is gone and I'm flying free with Jesus.  Yet I can trust Him to keep me and love through me.  I've found that being free from the law doesn't promote a desire to sin in me but instead promotes confidence that God is for me and a desire to enjoy my relationship with God and love people.  Rules aren't the basis of my life anymore; He is!  Right and wrong doing (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) has moved off center stage; He and His finished work (the tree of life) is now center stage!  He is sufficient to save me and sufficient to live the Christian life in me.

I've also noticed that whenever I start looking at myself, measuring my progress, trying to improve or stop sinning, focus on my failures, or compare my spirituality with others, things degenerate because I'm going back to focusing on doing right and avoiding wrong - Law.  I start to feel condemned and guilty and sin-conscious.  Jesus is so good to gently lift my gaze away from law and my failings and back onto Him and His finished work.  Then I start to calm down and feel my freedom again.  That's His Life in me keeping me focused on Him and on grace.

Another time I am tempted to put myself back under law is after I sin.  It's a temptation to think I must do something to get back in God's good graces or somehow straighten things out after a sin outburst.  The focus can shift from Him and His work to my failings and need to improve myself.  Once again, He reminds me that my acceptance and righteousness in Him is completely apart from the law and thus apart from my performance (Rom. 3:20-22).  It is unchanging whether I sin or not.  Thus I don't have to think I need to work to get it back - I never lost it!  I am accepted as righteous based on Christ's work alone (which stands perfect forever), not based on my keeping the law.  My right standing with God is secure!

Law couldn't give Life and it can't maintain or manifest life.  Only Life itself can do that.  Jesus is Life!  He put His life within me and He maintains and manifests that Life in and through me.  Law just doesn't enter the picture.  For we are not under law, where we must do it all, but under grace, where He does it all!

Let's enjoy the fact that we are not under law but under grace today!  We have been lifted up out of the dark clouds of performance, guilt, and condemnation;  we are breathing the pure air of grace as we fly with Jesus through the heavenlies!

                        Love to all from

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grace Upon Grace: A Conversation

Here's another favorite post by Jamie Weeks of Better Than We Know blog.  I love when she shares the conversations she has with Jesus!

"I sobbed my heart out as I drove back from the beach this morning.  For myself and for every person who still lives under the crippling, lying, devastating effects of the law.  Self-examination will never show you Christ.  Self-examination is after all self-centered, self-conscious, and sin conscious.

"And as I wept bitter tears, Jesus held me and let me sob out my hurt, my disappointment, and my fear. And we talked...
me: But how far can I go and you still love me?
Him: How far can you go? There is no boundary on my love and grace for you. Even if you go where you know you should not, I GO WITH YOU. I will NEVER LEAVE YOU.
me: But you know my heart. You know I can't trust love. You know how I was raised. Always waiting for the unexpected slap whether it was deserved or not. Walking on eggshells to keep the peace. Living in fear of the unexpected. You know that my behavior is all I know to do to keep myself safe and that I learned that even that is never enough. You know that I question all that I do in light of how others perceive me. You know that I struggle with the heavy burden of trying to please everyone and being perfect.
Him: I do know that, Jamie. I know all of that. That's why you are so beautiful to me. I love watching you grow in your understanding of me and my overwhelming love for you. I love hearing you ask, "I can do this, and this, and this?" and seeing how delighted you are that you are not under judgment. I know that every step you take into freedom is a hard fought battle for you because you have been taught that love and approval must be earned. And every time you fall from your understanding of my love for you I know how crushed you are because you still erroneously believe that our relationship is based on you, NOT ME. And that is OK because my love is far greater than your comprehension and I trust me enough for the both of us.
me: But you know that people say your life should be produced in me. So, what about when it's not in evidence?
Him: Darling, you are my life, my heart, my desire. My life is in you. PERIOD. That doesn't change based on you. And to those who point to your actions they are wrong in their thinking. My life is not about behavior modification. And for you to think that is WRONG. My life is about living out of a loving union. Love isn't a measuring stick, a set of rules or guidelines, or a taskmaster. Love isn't an expectation for you to be someone besides who you are in me. All the time. When love is manifest and when it ISN'T. Love IS. And I AM.
me: But my heart hurts. And I'm confused. And I don't want to sssssssin!!
Him: I know all of this, sweetheart. And I only ask that you trust me and believe me when I say that I love you regardless of your actions, thoughts, feelings, or circumstances.
me: BUT YOU KNOW people say, "Sin will take you where you don't want to go!"
Him: Yes, people do. But I SAY, Nothing will take you from me! Not the worst possible thing you could imagine or do. There is no depth, height, or length that goes beyond my love and grace. Do I feel the regret that you have when you choose independence? Yes, but EVEN SIN wills and works to bring you always to me. The path of sin doesn't lead away from me but to me! And I walked this earth so that SIN as an issue between us would be forever destroyed. Your SIN has no bearing on US, only your perception of it.
me: (sniffing and snuggling in closer) Will you promise to keep proving that to me?
Him: (laughing with delight) Will you promise to allow me to keep proving it to you?
Have I told you lately how loved I am by the Lover of my soul?"

                                                                    Jamie Weeks

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Everlasting Arms

"There is a biblical promise which is connected to our spiritual rest which points us toward the arms of God. When Moses announced God's blessing on the tribes of Israel by promising to bring them into His place of rest, He told them that "the eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27). Christians are in Christ, and, says the Bible, underneath are the everlasting arms.

"There have been times in my life when decisions I made caused me to say to myself, "Oh no, I'm sunk now." My assessment always proved to be wrong. Whether I felt it or not, underneath me were God's everlasting arms keeping me from sinking. The same is true of your life. You are where you are today because God has upheld you by His arms. The arms of God provide a lifetime guarantee that He will take care of the details of our lives, ensuring that we won't make choices which cause us to sink to a place where He doesn't want us to be. You can relax and enjoy the living water because God has you in His arms!"

                                                               Steve McVey

It is such a comfort to me to read these words!  We can't ever fall out of His grip, can't ever fall out of His arms.  He holds on to us.  No failure of ours is fatal;  our failures don't change one thing in our relationship with God, since He already took away all our failures at the cross and once and for all FORGAVE them!  We see our failures, our problems, our messes, our sins, our baggage.  He doesn't see any of that.  He sees His beautiful child, made perfect and new, sitting with Christ in heaven!

We can't ever fall out of His perfect plan.  I tend to think, oh, I've really done it now...with my latest failure I've probably derailed my Christian life in some way.  NO!  God knew all about every failure I'd make and has already accounted for all of that!  He is weaving everything in my life, even my mistakes, into His perfect plan of making all things work out for my good.  There's no second best with God.  There's only the best, and He reminds us: "I'll see to it that everything works out for the best" (Is. 54:17).

We can relax in His arms and know that He is responsible for us and our right relationship with Him stands secure for all time in Jesus Christ! 

              With love to all from

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You Are Loved

Words of God's grace to all of us, His children:

Do you know how loved you are?  You were loved into existence.  And you are surrounded by love every day of your life.  You are loved every second of every day of every year of your life.  You are loved completely, immeasurably, eternally, and unconditionally.

You are loved just the way you are.  And you are important just the way you are.  You are valuable and a treasure.  This world is made brighter because you are in it. And you make each and every day special just by being you in that day.

You are a wonderful person.  You are truly beautiful.  You're a work of art, and there's noone else just like you on this whole planet.  You are truly one of a kind and special.  You are a magnificent creation!

You are accepted.  You are accepted just as you are, not as you hoped you might be.  You are completely accepted, no matter what you've done or who you feel you've become.  You're wanted.  You're home.  You belong.  You are a delight to be around!

Just you being yourself is a worthwhile person.  You matter.  You have dignity.  You are worth something.  You're needed.  You are  a significant person and the world would suffer great loss without your presence here.

You're liked and appreciated.  Noone else has just your talents, abilities, interests, and special tastes.  Your thoughts are unique to you and add so much to this world.  Your opinion is important. 

You are cherished.  You are held like a child by unseen arms.  You are embraced and cared for every single day.  You are held by arms that won't ever let you go.  Someone notices and cares about everything that happens to you.

You are delighted in.  Someone sings over you every day, every night.  Someone rejoices in you and delights with pride in the wonderful creation you are.  Someone hopes with you about all your dreams.  Someone is rooting for you and cheering you on.  You are smiled upon.

You are never alone and never have been.  Someone walks through every pain and sorrow and triumph you have experienced.  You are never without a friend.  You are befriended.  There is a hand in yours.  There's a voice that speaks love to you always.  There's a presence that will never leave you.  You can never drive that presence away, no matter what you do.

You are understood.  Someone cares for you and all your concerns.  Your pain and heartache, your fears and troubled thoughts are all understood perfectly.  You are known perfectly and loved perfectly just as you are.  You are taken in and welcomed, never to be rejected or turned away.  You are safe and secure.

You are an innocent child.  You are forgiven.  All you've done wrong has been erased and forgotten.  It won't ever be brought up again.  You have been freed and released from its weight.  You are clean.  No wrongs are held against you.  Someone looks in your heart and sees good.

You are graced.  You are loved without having to deserve it.  You are loved and aided and blessed for free.  Someone is on your side in this cold world. Someone is for you and not against you.  You have been given the greatest of gifts: the grace that brings real life in that Someone who loves you, that Someone named Jesus.

You are loved..

                        Grace to all,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Tree of Life

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men 
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.

Song of Songs 2:3

The Righteous Life

The Righteous Life (Jesus) is what we already have!  The Righteous Life is what is flowing out of us today without us doing anything.  Effortless!  We have to do - nothing!  He does it all.  We can be at peace and rest.

And even if the Righteous Life doesn't manifest in our outer life as we would want, it still IS!  It doesn't have to be seen to be real.  If we never see in this life all the outward results we'd like to see, there is no condemnation for we are okay in the One who IS our Life and IS righteous for all of us!   We have messy lives and sometimes contradictory behavior and yet we are still IN life and still the righteousness of God in Christ.  For it is never based on our behavior, not to get this righteousness or to keep it.  It is a GIFT.

The Righteous Life is a life of being in right relationship with God.  We have an acceptable, satisfying, intimate relationship with God as our personal possession.  The Life we are in is a life of constant communion and fellowship among the Trinity.  This is the very life we are now a part of, the very love relationship that is now our birthright and privilege.  We need never look at others and think they are better Christians and thus closer to God.  We can all hold our heads high, for we all have a relationship with God that is absolutely perfect, because it is the right relationship of Jesus to God that has been put in us!  That's a perfect relationship!  And it's still perfect right after we fail, for it's His right relationship transferred to us and therefore not dependent on us at all to produce or maintain.  That's the Righteous Life we have inside!

We are IN Life!  And noone can take us out, not even our own selves.  No matter what, the Life is in us and won't leave.  We are sustained by His Life.  We have drunk from the fountain of the water of Life and thirst no more.  We filled full!  We are complete!  Our spirits are always in the realm of the new creation where all simply IS righteous and holy and true - that's the Really Real, no matter what's visible here...

                       With love from

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Life Springing Up Within Us

"What's good news to us now isn't just that He died FOR us, though that is good news.  It isn't just that He's WITH us, though that is good news.  It isn't just that He's IN us, HELPING us, though that is good news.  The really good news is that He is in us, living His life as us.  He has joined His Spirit with our spirit.  In the unseen and eternal, there's Deity inside us.  We are not that Deity, but we are containers of that Deity.

"A well of eternal life is springing up within us.  That life is adequate; that life is sufficient; that life is never exhausted, never tires, never tastes bitter.  That life is always light, always has mercy in it, always has a second chance in it, always carries God's forgiveness toward others, always is love.

"When we recognize this, suddenly the OUGHTS and the MUSTS of Satan's frenetic life become the 'Be still and be' of God's life - the 'Be still, and be' of His eternal presence.  A dramatic change of our point of reference results.  Satan's invitation to humanity was 'you become.'  When we're playing the game of MUST and OUGHT, we're in the performance spotlight.  Our performance is center stage.  But our point of reference is now the indwelling Jesus Christ.  He has no part in the separation implied by MUST and OUGHT.  He lives in our inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where all simply is.  We are invited to let that be, and let Him come forth."

                                                                        Dan Stone

The Life in us is adequate for every situation we will face today.  We are not trying to become; we already are.  We're not trying to get more life, we are one with LIFE, and His name is Jesus Christ.  All we ever needed, He is in us right now.  All we ever longed to be, He is in us as our very Life.  That Life is fulfilling and satisfies our every need.  That Life is intoxicating and causes us to dance and sing with joy.  That Life is abundant, and it's overflowing out of us to the world now and now and now!   He gave us everything when He gave us Himself.  And He is living out of us today...

                            With love,

Monday, March 15, 2010

When We Need A Friend

I've been thinking lately about relationship.  We are told that Christianity is all about relationship.  I spent so many years of my Christian life unable to enjoy this relationship because I thought there were so many things I had to attain first.  Since I didn't know I was already forgiven, accepted, right with God, in fellowship with Him, and in union so intimate that we are one, I worked very hard to try to get those things.  I felt God was disappointed and frustrated with me, felt He was always wanting me to do better.  It didn't make me feel very bold and confident in our relationship.  Then a beautiful thing called grace happened and God opened my eyes to the fact that I already was forgiven, accepted, etc.  God suddenly became Someone approachable, not scary or distant.  I suddenly realized He wasn't angry or demanding but truly loving.  He is still teaching me so much about who He is and helping me see how safe and kind He is.  Now I can finally begin to enjoy that relationship we have had all along.  Which got me thinking...what does that relationship involve?

To me, the relationship with a good friend involves:
-just hanging out together
-being able to be yourself
-feeling complete acceptance
-the presence of trust
-doing fun things together
-sharing your dreams, hopes, hurts and fears
-not having to worry about rejection
-being understood
-continued love even when you've done wrong
-sympathy and compassion
-taking up for the person against their detractors
-believing in them and encouraging them
-seeing the good in them they cannot see in themselves

My best friend Jesus has been all these things to me.  When I have failed, He has lifted my face and smiled on me rather than giving a stinging rebuke.  When I have been anxious and sad, He has hurt right along with me.  When I have been afraid and thought I would panic with fear, He has given me a sense of His presence and peace so real that it can't be put in words.  He never leaves me but is my constant companion through all my ups and downs.  When I get down on myself, He loves me.  When I compare myself to others and come up short, He says I'm okay in His book.  When I forget grace, He reminds me of it over and over again.  When I need encouragement, He gives it somehow, some way. He accepts me and loves me as I am!  That is how my Dear Friend Jesus is with me.

He doesn't ever harm us but only loves.  He doesn't ever get irritated and won't ever leave no matter what our messy problems.  He doesn't mistreat us but only has the most tender compassion.  He doesn't lecture us on our faults but sees the good in us we can't even see.  He doesn't beat up on us when we are down but instead sticks up for us when we are down.  He is never harsh with us but always gentle and sensitive.  He never speaks words of angry rebuke but only words that build up and minister grace to us.

He laughs with us and cries with us.  He walks with us through our pain and feels that pain with us.  He loves everything about our personality and finds us an interesting delight.  He loves being with us, even just doing nothing.  He never feels that time spent with us is wasted but instead treasures every moment with us.  He shares our dreams and hopes.  He smiles on us always.  He's so faithful and good, and our hearts are safe with Him.  We couldn't ask for a better Friend than Him!  And that is the Person we will be in relationship with for all time!  Christianity is just walking through eternity with our Best Friend...

                        With love,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Call of the Lover to the Beloved

  The Woman

Look! Listen! There's my lover!
   Do you see him coming?
Vaulting the mountains,
   leaping the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle, graceful;
   like a young stag, virile.
Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate,
   all ears, all eyes—ready!
My lover has arrived
   and he's speaking to me!

The Man
 Get up, my dear friend,
   fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
   the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
   The whole world's a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
   with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
   and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
   my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
   leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face,
   let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing
   and your face is ravishing.

                                                Song of Songs 2:8-14

In The Garden

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

                                           C. Austin Miles

I believe the writer of this hymn had in mind the meeting of Mary Magdalene with Jesus in the garden the morning of His resurrection.  I think of how her intense sorrow and despair turned immediately to relief and utter joy!  That is exactly the experience of grace, I think.  To realize that what we have longed for and dreamed for, a right relationship with God, has been given to us for free, is the best of joys!  Jesus came out of the tomb a Conqueror.  He defeated sin, Satan, guilt, shame, evil, condemnation, and even death for us!  He left behind in the grave our sins, our old messed-up lives, our bondage to law, our enslavement to sin, and entrapment by Satan.  He came out of the grave and brought us with Him to new and whole life!  We rose with Him to be part of a new creation that will never die, filled with the Life of the Eternal One.  And we have all of forever to enjoy the One who loved us and gave His life for us so He could live in us!  We may come as Mary Magdalene did to the garden thinking we are alone, but He shows us that through His finished work we are His forever, never alone again, alive with the Life of Christ Himself and in union with Him forever.  He whispers to His true love, "You are mine!"  His bride will have a long and happy marriage through all eternity, married to the Lover of her soul!

                               With love from Sparrow

None Other Lamb, None Other Name

None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other Hope in heaven or earth or sea,
None other Hiding-place from Guilt and shame,
None beside Thee.

Lord, Thou art Life tho' I be dead,
Love's Fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor heaven have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.

                                          Christina Rossetti

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Grace Means To Me

Grace is when you've cried every last tear you have and you hear Someone weeping for you.

Grace is when you walk through a dark wood thinking you are all alone and you feel a Hand in yours.

Grace is when the world has rejected you and left you for dead, and you feel yourself lifted up and embraced.

Grace is when you are waiting to hear angry words of rebuke for your last evil deed, and you hear instead, "No condemnation."

Grace is when you are past all feeling in the whirlwind of your crazy circumstances and you are still sustained to make it to another day.

Grace is when your fears seem like they would overwhelm you and you suddenly experience a wave of peace within you.

Grace is when you believe yourself guilty and condemned and suddenly find yourself accepted and loved.

Grace is when you are consumed with negative thoughts and hate yourself and Someone says, "You are beautiful to Me."

Grace is when you feel trapped and unable to become what you've always longed to be and then you find yourself soaring freely.

Grace is when you expect a look of irritation and frustration and instead receive a smile.

Grace is when you are weak and suddenly find yourself strong.

Grace is when you are dead and suddenly find yourself alive.

Grace is when you are guilty and suddenly find yourself forgiven.

Grace is when you are sinful and suddenly find yourself righteous.

Grace is when you are lost and suddenly find yourself found.

Grace is when you are unlovely and suddenly find yourself loved.

Grace is when you are unwanted and suddenly find yourself taken in.

Grace is when you are wandering and suddenly find yourself home.

Grace is when you are unacceptable and suddenly find yourself accepted.

Grace is when you've failed to earn a thing and suddenly find all is yours by gift.

Grace is a Person named Jesus Christ, and in Him is all we've ever longed for and all we've ever needed.

That's what (Who) grace is to me.

                          With love,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Already In

I spent many years of my Christian life in frustration, feeling like a wasn't a very good Christian and trying harder to change that.  What I wanted most was just to know God accepted me and was pleased with me, that things were okay between Him and me.  But I just never felt that because my actions and thoughts and words were often so unacceptable.  How could He be pleased with someone who acted like I did, thought and spoke like I did?   I wanted to be righteous but felt so far from being the righteous person I longed to be.  Every time I sinned, I felt out of fellowship with God.  I was always searching for any possible sin and confessing that to God so I could be forgiven.  Sure I had some wonderful experiences with God and some real times of victory and peace, but so many times I had this underlying feeling of "not there yet."   I longed for yet never could seem to get myself into that place of total acceptance, total righteousness, total closeness, total security.  

Then God began to show me something wonderful.  He showed me that all I was longing and striving for, I already had! 

Watchman Nee says, "Think of the bewilderment of trying to get into a room in which you already are!  Think of the absurdity of asking to be put in!  If we recognize the fact that we ARE in, we make no effort to enter."

I was searching so much for God's love, wanting desperately to know that He loved me no matter what.  God showed me I already had that.  We all do.  God has proved His love for us by Christ's dying for us while we were still sinners.  That shows His love is without condition and not based on any goodness on our part, for Christ died for us when we were "no good!"  If He loved us enough to do that for us then, He loves us no matter what, at all times, whatever we do, whatever we feel we've become.

I was searching for acceptance, longing more than anything in life to know God accepted me.  Once again, God beautifully showed me I already had His acceptance!  Christ's death on the cross was God's way of embracing the whole world and telling us all, I welcome you in.  We have been accepted in the Beloved.  We've been graced in Jesus, and grace carries the meaning of unconditional acceptance. 

I longed so much just to know I was forgiven.  Here was yet another piece of the good news God showed me - I had been forgiven ever since Jesus died on the cross.  He took away the sins of the world, removed them all.  The whole world stands forgiven by the cross, for God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them.  I didn't have to keep confessing and trying to get forgiven, I already WAS forgiven of ALL sins by the cross!

I was always trying to "get right" with God, feeling that every time I sinned I went out of fellowship and had to confess and commit more in order to get back to rightness before Him.  Yet God showed me I already had this rightness in Christ.  Justification just means "being right with God, in right and acceptable relationship with God."  Christ has put us in a right, acceptable relationship with God for eternity!  We are right with God now and forever, never out of fellowship, never needing to feel ashamed in His presence!  What a gift from Jesus!

I longed to know that God was for me, on my side.  I longed to be in His favor, or good graces.  Once again, God showed me this was already mine!  We've been graced in Christ.  We stand in His grace at all times.  Grace carries the meaning of God being for us, not against us.  We are in His favor at ALL times, no matter what we do or don't do.  This favor is free!  We don't have to deserve it or be worthy of it.  And since it is undeserved like that, we can't lose it!  It just doesn't depend on us at all but on God who has given us grace in Christ.  God gives such good gifts!

I was always wanting to get closer to God.  But He showed me the wonderful truth that I had been brought into union with Him!  In the new birth we've been born again with Christ as our very Life, ours spirits in union with His!  We are in Him, and He is in us - you can't get any closer than IN!  We are never alone or desolate, never apart from Him at all, no matter what our feelings might try to tell us.  He doesn't walk beside us, He walks in us, as us.  This union is indissoluble and permanent.  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us - that's forever friendship and unbreakable fellowship!  

I longed so much to know that I was secure in my relationship with God, that I couldn't "mess this up" through some great sin or some great doubt.  God showed me beautifully that grace means security.  We don't have to keep ourselves, for He is keeping us and preserving us in Christ.  We don't have to hold on to Him, for He is holding on to us.  He promised He would not let us go.  We just can't get away from a Love that won't let us go.  Grace means no matter what, we will never fall to a place where we are lost.  Grace means it's all up to God, and He is faithful to complete the work He's begun in us!  He put the obedient One, Christ, in us, so we don't have to worry for Christ Himself will keep us through His righteous and eternal life!  And the Spirit Himself reminds us that we're His children forever, our spirits already in heaven with Christ!  

We live in the already.  We live in the wonderful room of grace.  We're right where God wants us, in perfect relationship with Him, loved and accepted, forgiven and favored.  Jesus did a perfect work on the cross, and it was also a finished work.  He finished the work to bring us into a perfect relationship with God, for that's the whole point of salvation or eternal life - knowing Him in a perfect, intimate relationship.  That's where we are right now, in a PERFECT relationship with the God of the whole universe!  So we've got all of eternity to enjoy our relationship with God, to celebrate His love, to revel in His acceptance!  We can stop striving for those things and start relaxing and enjoying them!  We've got all of eternity to enjoy HIM!

Grace to all who stop by today..

                 With love from

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lion and Lamb

Here is a beautiful song by Crystal Lewis, "Lion and Lamb."

Jesus, You are our Lion..
You reign in power over all our enemies, You reign over all our problems, You reign over all our circumstances.
You are our Defender, You are our Shield, You are our Protector.
No weapon formed against us can prosper, No accusation can stick to us, No evil can destroy us.
You roar that we are more than conquerors, You roar that we are never separated from Your love, You roar that we are seated in the heavenly places with You!

Jesus, You are our Lamb.
You died for us, You sacrificed Your life for us, You carried all our sorrows for us.
No sin can destroy us, No guilt can plague us, No enemy lie can destroy the truth You've worked in us.
There is no condemnation on us, There is no separation between us, There is no rejection of us.
You are never judgmental toward us, You are never threatening toward us, You are never harsh toward us.

He is the Lion that has made us overcome all the power of the enemy, the Lion that roars that we are Perfect in His sight forever, holy, blameless, righteous, and vindicated!
He is the Lamb that is gentle and tender with us in every heartache, trouble, failure, and weakness, always there with comfort and reassurance.

He will never reject us, never berate us, never ignore us, never harm us, never abandon us.
He will always accept us, always take care of us, always hold us, always treat us well, always understand us.

He is mighty against our enemies and gentle with us!
He reigns over every evil through the sacrifice of Himself!
He is the Lion and the Lamb...
Jesus, You are all that matters!

                      With love from

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Part of the Family

 Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When I was fresh out of college, I was privileged to spend 6 months living with my friend's family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  My friend had a great, close, and loving family that did special things for each other.  For example, she told me about how her mother would help her pack her belongings to leave for school in the US, and how she would hide little slips of paper with encouraging Bible verses on them in her clothing for her to find later when she arrived at college.  It was this family that offered to let me live with them and find ministry opportunities at the same time.

This family basically "adopted" me as their very own and took care of me in so many ways.  They included me in all their family life, even trips and vacations.  They just took care of me as their own daughter.  Especially the mother, Dorisa.  Dorisa took me everywhere with her: to the market, the church, visiting friends.  She showed me how to shop, how to ride the bus, how to figure out landmarks so I would know where to get off the bus (which was very hard for a country girl like me - every building and street corner looked identical).  She spoke very slowly so I could understand her and basically taught me Portuguese.  She figured out what foods I liked and made sure she prepared them.  She taught me proper manners Brazilian style.  She found ministry opportunities for me.  She was this wonderful person and just a mother to me.  She made me feel included and like one of the family.  I didn't call her Dorisa but "mae" (mom).  She even helped me pack my bags when my 6-month adventure was done.

The adventure was finally over and I was headed home.  At the airport I admit I broke down and cried to leave this Brazilian mother.  I don't think I realized till later all that she did to help me, and how she loved me and treated me as her own.  I left feeling very sad to say goodbye and very thankful for my Brazilian family, especially Dorisa.  Later when I was back in the US, I was talking to a friend and just happened to put my hand into the pocket of my jeans.  I felt something and pulled it out.  There on a slip of paper was a Bible verse in Portuguese.  Dorisa had done the same thing with me as she did with her own daughter.  She had put the little verses of encouragement in with my clothes.  She was a special lady, now in heaven...

I was thinking about all this recently and seeing how similar it is to what God has brought about for us.  He has, through putting us into Christ, brought us into His very family.  He has adopted us and treats us as His own.  He has even gone a step further - through the new birth we have been re-born as members of His family.  We really are His own children through Christ; we truly belong in His family!  He loves and cares for us just as He loves and cares for His own Son!  And we share in all that the Son has!  He meets our every need and takes care of us in every way.  Wherever we go, He is with us every step.  He has included us in every way in the family circle, and He has brought us to share in the love relationship of the Trinity itself.  And He puts little love messages everywhere in our lives for us to find and rejoice in, just to say, "I love you, My child", just as Dorisa did with me.  He is so good!  What a wonderful family life we have in Him!  We're part of the Divine Family forever, never to be excluded, with no possibility of being rejected.  We're home forever in Him!

                                       With love,

Monday, March 8, 2010

We Died With Christ, We Live With Christ

Here are some quotes from a book by Watchman Nee called The Glory of His Life.  I've been pondering these lately as I've been thinking of what it means to be dead to the law and alive to God in Christ:

"God knows you are without strength, that you cannot do anything, and that you are completely helpless.  And this is why He crucified you...So we can say, 'I can now really see that God has absolutely no demand on me.  I today know I can do nothing, and therefore God has had me crucified.  Why, then, should I strive anymore?"

(The law is God's demands on our flesh.  And we are freed from the law because God made us to die to it.  We are dead to the law, and that means God has no demands on us!  Whew!)

"To be delivered from the law is to be delivered from God's demand, which means that...we give up the idea of trying to please God.

"Knowing that God does not expect anything from us is the only way not to despair.

"We should no longer make any resolution, neither expect progress nor strive for victory - because we know that all these come from the old Adamic life.  We will ignore it altogether...All our defeats and falls derive from the old Adamic life.  Should we ask the Lord to give us strength so that we will not do it again, to men this looks excellent but to God this is unnecessary because we have died in Christ.  Our history has ended, and therefore none of our decisions and desires count.

"We have been delivered from the law on one hand and we have been joined to Christ on the other hand.

"If we want to look at ourselves we can only look at ourselves in the Lord...You should only see yourself in Christ....[the important thing is] never to look at ourselves outside of Christ.

"The relationship between Him and us is that of life.  In other words, it is an indissoluble relationship.  Christ does not come to be some outward things to us.  He comes to enter into us to be our life.  The relationship of life is an eternal bond...Possessing Him as our life, our union with Him is indissoluble.

"Our union with Christ today is that which Adam in the beginning never had.  It is an eternal, indestructible relationship, such that even God Himself has no way to dissolve it.  This life abides in us..

"Christ as our life is the foundation of a Christian.  Christ in us as our life reacts on our behalf against all outside influences.

"Christ not only died for us on the cross but He also lives for us within us.  Who can make us live like Christ?  None except the One who gives the life of Christ to us...We who are resurrected in Christ will bring forth fruit to the glory of God.
                                                                         Watchman Nee

I am still learning from and pondering the above quotes, but these are my thoughts on them:  We can't please or love God on our own strength.  God knew we couldn't do right, so He killed us off.  That ended the demand of the law on us, for dead people don't have to keep the law.  In fact, dead people don't do much at all.  They don't improve or make resolutions or get better.  They can do...nothing.  That pretty much describes our ability and potential in the flesh.  We know that in our flesh dwells nothing good.  The flesh (natural human effort) is a zero.  It stinks and always will.  We can't prop it up, animate it, improve it or fix it.  It's what we were, not what we are.  It's not the source of our life anymore, for through the work of Christ our old life source, flesh, has been cut away and we have been raised with a new life source, Christ.

We are alive now only in Christ.  We are "In Christ people."  We live by His life, not our own.  The old way was trying on our own strength.  The new way is Christ living in me!  He is the only Life that ever pleased God.  He always does the things that please Him.  He is not only my righteousness, He is the living out of the righteous life in me.  I live by faith.  That means I have confidence that He is my righteousness already and that He will bring that out.  I act, make choices, live and love, but it's really Christ doing all those things (Gal 2.20), animating and motivating and living His life through me, for it is God who works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).  We live not by our own efforts (flesh, law), which is death, but by the Spirit of Christ in us (Spirit, grace), which is life.  And we are privileged to watch that life come forth in us, the very resurrection life of Christ!

                          With love to all,

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You're To Die For

She walks around with the smile
On her face turned upside down
In this place of disgrace
She looks up to the sky and asks this question
"What are your thoughts about me?"
All she could hear were these words of love
Whispered in her ear

You're to die for
Paid the price for
All you cry for-woohoohoo
And all you strive for
Came to your door
The day that I stepped in
You're to die for

He walks around with the frown
On his face turned upside down
In this place of grace
He lays back in his easy chair and sighs
Life is great with your mistakes wiped away
All he could hear were these words of love
Whispered in his ear

You're to die for
Paid the price for
All you cry for-woohoohoo
And all you strive for
Came to your door
The day that I stepped in
You're to die for

All I can hear are these words of love
Ringing in my ears...
You're to die for


Saturday, March 6, 2010

We Were Made For Love

Immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.  Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus  (from Ephesians 2, The Message).

Why did God save us?  What is our purpose?  Why did He recreate us and bring us into His family?  I guess for the same reason a couple brings a child into the world, the same reason a man marries a woman - for love!

His ultimate purpose for us is to love us.  What He wants to do with our lives is to love us.  His goal for our existence is to love us.  The reason He wants us around is to love us.  Not to use us.  Not to enslave us.  Not to boss us around.  Not to change us.  To love us.

We are in a love dance with our Lover, Jesus.  We're dancing with Him in the fields of grace.  And as we dance, that love is transforming us and also spilling out to others, attracting them to their own love dance with Him. That is the beautiful overflow, but it isn't the "main event."  The main event is Jesus being with us in our own special dance of love right now and now and now.  For each of us, there are only two people in the universe at this moment - Lover and Beloved.  We're captured by His gaze, held in His embrace.  He is swirling us around and showering us with unconditional love like we've dreamed of all our lives.  

He saved us to be kind to us forever!  What a wonderful Savior!  Hope you enjoy the dance..

                               With love,

Friday, March 5, 2010

He Does It All; We Rest

There's a beautiful Brazilian worship song (by the group Milad) that brings so much peace to my heart.  It just makes me relax and rest again when confusion tries to take over and I feel the weight of "should" on my shoulders, a weight I wasn't meant to bear.  His work is to do everything; ours is to rest in Him. 

Nao tenhas sobre ti
Um so cuidado qualquer que seja
Pois um, somente um,
Seria muito para ti.

E meu somente meu
Todo trabalho
E o teu trabalho e
Descansar em mim.
Loose translation:

Don't have upon you
Even one single care
Because even one
Would be too much for you.

It's Mine, and only Mine,
All the work to do
And your work is
To rest in Me.

May you rest peacefully in the One who does it all in and through you today...
                              With love,
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