Thursday, June 30, 2011

There's No Other Name Like Yours, Jesus



He is everything to us, and there's no other Person and no other Name like His!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When We Feel Lost and Far Away..



This song describes how I felt when I was in a deep, dark, lonely and depressed place that I felt I couldn't get out of.

And God came into my situation, was there for me and lifted me out! Grace!

Hey, I just realized the date this post is publishing - and it was exactly one year ago today that God lifted me out of my darkness by just immersing and baptizing me in His Spirit!  Coincidence?  I think not!

We can sometimes feel lost and far away, yet He's still right there. He will wash away all those lying voices and troubling thoughts..And show us we're still in His love, as always..  He is there with us in the pain and He is the One who brings us through and lifts us up!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When Jesus Erases the Lies That Hurt Us

I read a story once in the book Messy Spirituality (by Mike Yaconelli) that really touched my heart.  It was an account of a lady named Margaret who had been horribly shamed in childhood.  A teacher had decided on a terrible punishment for her tardiness to class:  she had made Margaret stand in front of the room while each of the other students came to the blackboard and wrote a sentence about how "bad" Margaret was. The students wrote, one by one, words like "Margaret is stupid!   Margaret is selfish!  Margaret is fat!"  The teacher said this "might motivate" the poor girl to "become a better student."  But what it did was crush her spirit and cause her years of heartache, as she watched herself become what those words said, because of the hold those lies held on her.  Those lies seared her soul and wounded her deeply, causing her to limp through life feeling unworthy and rotten.

I realized recently that I have been living under a lie that has crippled me as well.  I hate how the enemy lies to us and how we can live under what isn't even true.  The particular lie that crippled me was "You are a terrible friend.  There is something wrong with you.  People only tolerate you.  Noone would ever want to be close to you.  Noone would ever want you for a best friend."  Noone would ever want me for a best friend - those words have haunted me for years and years as I have seemingly searched in vain for a really good friend.  A best friend.  But the words of that lie seemed to be true in my experience.  It seemed that noone really did want me to be close to them, to be a truly close friend and confidante.  If it weren't for my dear husband, I would truly have felt totally alone.  He is truly my best friend.  And I know God is my ultimate best friend.  But still, women seem to need each other as friends.  We seem to need someone to share and laugh with, to talk about wildly swinging moods or clothes or childbirth.  It just seems to be the way God made us.  And I didn't seem to have that best friend with whom I could share what was on my heart.  The lie seeped in deeper and made me feel unworthy, defective, and like an outsider.  But it was so deep down below the surface that I didn't even know I believed all this - I didn't even see this lie in my life!  But still, like Margaret, lying words had been written across my soul, and I was wounded by them.

But Jesus is our Healer!  He comes in and erases the lies of the enemy.  He heals, lifts up and restores!  That is what He did for Margaret.  A counselor helped her through her troubled feelings and wounds.  He talked with her for a long time, then asked her to relive that day back in the classroom. Margaret recalled every single student, describing each one and what that person wrote that was "bad" about her.  She was in tears as she spoke about that awful day.  Then the counselor told Margaret that she had forgotten one person:

"You left out one person...See, He's sitting in the back of the classroom.  He's standing up...now He's walking over to the blackboard and picking up an eraser.  He is erasing every one of the sentences the students wrote.  They are gone!  Margaret, they are gone!  Now He's turning and looking at you, Margaret.  Do you recognize Him yet?  Yes, His name is Jesus.  Look, He's writing new sentences on the board.  'Margaret is loved.  Margaret is beautiful.  Margaret is gentle and kind.  Margaret is strong.  Margaret has great courage.'"  (Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, p. 76-7)

And what happened when the counselor said that?  Margaret began to cry.  Then her crying changed over to smiling, then to laughing and tears of joy!

I love that story!  That is exactly what Jesus does in His grace!  He comes in and erases the awful lies that Satan has tried to tell us about ourselves, that we are stupid, unworthy, unlovable, terrible, strange, and hideous.  And our dear Lord writes in new sentences that are the truth about us:  we are loved, we are worth something, we are whole, we are accepted, we are significant, we are beautiful!  And His truth sets us FREE to laugh and to dance and to sing with joy!

Jesus brought healing to me yesterday as well.  I joined Margaret in seeing my sorrow turn to gladness.  He is so amazing.  He brought me a dear friend, someone that I dared to open up to about this deep anxiety I had.  It was scary and very vulnerable.  But the friend He sent was very patient and loving.  She ministered grace to me.  She never made me feel like a defective person.  She gave me the precious gift of understanding.  She acted like I was worth helping and she took a long time with me to work out my thoughts and beliefs.  She was Jesus to me yesterday!  That is exactly the way He is, isn't it?  He doesn't ever crush a bruised spirit.  He is gentle and comforting, and He ministers healing balm to us.  He ministered that to me.  Through my friend, He made me feel special and worth something, that I was someone worth spending time with and worth helping.  Through her, Jesus began erasing the lies that I had lived under for so long, the lies that said I was worthless, not wanted, and not "good enough" to ever have a best friend.

The real healing, though, came right at the end of my conversation with my friend.  Suddenly, she started saying over and over, "We are best friends.  You are my best friend.  Best, best BEST!"  It was like Jesus was re-writing the sentences on my blackboard!  It was like He was saying to me: "You are special.  You are lovable.  You are beautiful.  You are loved.  You are MY best friend and you are worthy of being/having a best friend."  It was like a waterfall of love pouring over me, so healing and refreshing.  It was such a moment of release - in that moment, God healed me of the wounds those awful lies had inflicted!  The feeling was so freeing, like a little bird taking wing and floating on currents of air!

The enemy tries to tell us awful lies about ourselves.  It's crippling to listen to such trash.  Sometimes he's so subtle, and our feelings and circumstances can make the lies seem so true.  But they're NOT true!  Jesus is erasing those lies by His grace-words to us!  He is every day whispering the truth of our belovedness into our spiritual ears.  He will get His message across.  He won't give up until we see that every lie has been erased and that our spiritual 'blackboard' has been filled with His life-giving, Spirit-words of truth and love for us!  He is truly my Best Friend, and He also lets me know I'm worth being someone's best friend down here on earth as well.  And so are you!  You're worth something!  You're valuable!  This world would be a much darker place without you in it!  You are special!  Jesus, your Best Friend, the One with that holy eraser and life-writing chalk in His nail-scarred hand, says so!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Photos



Here are some beautiful flower photos that my daughter, the budding photographer, has taken...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For Those Who Have Nothing



I seem to be in a song mood lately. It's wonderful to find some new songs that are about His grace! Here's one I found recently - This is a great grace song by Rush of Fools...

"For Those"

For those who are worn with nothing to bring but empty hands
For those who are weak, for those who can't find the strength to stand

Lord we know it's for those You've come
Lord we know it's for those You've given Your Son
Lord we know it's for those who can't come on their own
That You've come, You have come for those

For those who are poor
For those who are broken, those who mourn
For those bound by chains with no way to freedom but for grace
But for grace

Rush of Fools

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You Love Me Anyway



Sometimes in the morning, I wake up with a song going through my mind - I feel like God has put the song there to encourage me and remind me of His love and presence.  This was the song He gave me this morning, and boy, did I ever need it today!  He loves me anyway, He thinks I'm worth knowing and even worth dying for.

I have heard all my life that Jesus loved me enough to die for me, and it's something I had heard so much that sometimes I wasn't seeing the real impact of that great truth.  But one day when I was thinking some lonely thoughts, wondering if anyone really wanted me around, God showed me that Jesus wanted me around so much He was willing to actually give His life up for me.  He truly died for me, to wipe away the tears and shame and hurt and oppression the enemy has wreaked on my life.  He thinks I am worth something, and He is even lonely for my friendship and fellowship.

He just can't bear to be without us!  We are worth something!  We have an amazing value, the value equal to the precious blood of Christ!  We are worth knowing and worth loving.  We are worth Jesus.  We aren't friendless or rejected.  He says He has NOT rejected us but has embraced us in His Son!  We are held forever in the arms that won't let go!

Thank You, Lord, that You want to be our Best Friend.  Thank You that You actually want to talk with us and commune with us, that those are Your favorite times and the whole reason You created us - it was in love, through love, and for love that You made us!  We were made to be with You, hugged by You forever.  You even delight in our love to You!  What a beautiful thing that our words of worship and love minister to Your heart.  I love You, Lord!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

There Is Nothing




There is nothing, no,
There is nothing You can't do

There is no wilderness,
No desert place, no sickness
There is no sinking ship,
No history, no weakness
That You can't save me from
That You can't save me from

When I can't find strength
I'm needing to get up
I'm not outside Your reach
You rescue me with love
                                                        Rush of Fools

He rescues us with love - what a great line in this song...

Praise God that He can do ANYTHING!

No matter what terrible pit we find ourselves in, He comes down to deliver us in some way!

Thank You, Lord, that You are a God of deliverance...to me grace means not only that You will always be with us and accept us no matter what we do or where we end up, but also that You will do something about our situation so that we can come through in victory and peace.Thank You for that!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Simple Gospel

My daughter's group at church was having a discussion of the gospel, seeking to put it into only a few simple words.  Taking what was said there and thinking my own thoughts as well, it comes out about like this:

The Simple Gospel:

God loves us.

But we screwed up.

God took responsibility for our mistake.

And Jesus fixed the whole thing.

That's grace in a nutshell!

We got into a mess, and Jesus got us out.

Thank You, Lord!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can't Get Away



We just can't get away from His love, His mercy, His kindness, His presence, His keeping, His care..

That's grace!

Lyrics to "Can't Get Away" by Rush of Fools:

I am an arrow, I am a rocket
I am a river and nothing can stop it
Cause You are the target and You are the atmosphere
You are the ocean that keeps pulling me, You're pulling me here

I am a beggar, You are the table
I am so helpless, God You are so able
And when I get turned around You change my direction
You're so perfect, I'm so broken, here You come with arms wide open
Chasing after me down every road
You're always waiting there

Even when I close my eyes, I can't help but see
There's no place that I can hide, You're such a part of me
I can't get away cause I keep running into You
I can't get away...

I'll never get away
I'll never get away
Can't get away
I keep running into you

                                                                           Rush of Fools

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Connection Between Grace and the Holy Spirit




Reflecting on the Holy Spirit and Grace       by Bob Hoekstra

"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication." (Zechariah 12:10)
Let's take a reflective look at our meditations on the Holy Spirit as a reminder that we are still studying about the grace of God. In considering how to live by the fullness of the Spirit, we have examined how to live more fully by the grace of God.

In Zechariah 4:6, we observed the connection between living by the Spirit and living by the grace of God: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." Serving the Lord is accomplished by the work of the Spirit in and through our lives, not by natural capabilities. The next verse restates this truth in terms of God's grace. "And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it'!" Every completed task in the service of God is accomplished by His grace (God's undeserved resources), not by our ingenuity or merit.

We also saw how the early church experienced this relationship between the Spirit and grace. "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness…And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:31, 33). The boldness they experienced through the Holy Spirit is described as a result of great grace at work upon them.

Jesus came to establish a new covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20). This covenant was characterized by grace, in contrast to the old covenant that Moses set in place. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). This new covenant of grace is also a covenant of the Spirit. "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).

When the Lord Jesus returns and Israel humbly bows to Him as their Messiah, this wondrous response will be the result of "the Spirit of grace" being poured out upon them. This glorious title, identifying grace with the Holy Spirit, beautifully sums up the grand truth that living by grace and walking in the Spirit are two perspectives on the same precious reality.

                                                                             Bob Hoekstra

I really enjoyed reading this about how grace and the Holy Spirit are interwoven.

The wonderful goal of the cross and resurrection - having the very life of God to be within us by the Holy Spirit -  is a grace-gift.  The Holy Spirit is freely given to us without our earning or deserving.

The Holy Spirit ministers the New Covenant of grace to us.  He always relates toward us in grace.  He pours the unconditional love of God into our hearts.  He doesn't point out our sin but instead convinces us of our righteousness in Christ.

His way is never the way of law but always the way of grace.  He doesn't require from without; He gives godly desires from within.  Thus He moves us to live a life of love by motivating us through grace and freedom, not compulsion.

He even bears the fruit of righteousness in our lives, doing what we couldn't do on our own.  From first to last, our Christian life is a product of the work of the Spirit of God in and through us!

He is grace in a Person!  How wonderful that the blessed Spirit within us in this New Covenant is Grace Himself!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

God Wants Us Around

It hit me yesterday that our times of just "hanging out" with God don't just bless us - they bless HIM  as well! 

God actually wants us around!  He loves being with us and loves our company!  It blesses His great heart to have us communing with Him.  He truly delights in our company!

What a Friend!

It's so nice to know that we have a Friend

  • who loves us unconditionally
  • who is never too busy to talk
  • who loves to laugh with us and to hear us laugh 
  • who truly rejoices with us and weeps with us
  • who stands up for us and defends us against our accusers
  • who comes along to bear our burdens so we don't feel alone
  • who  won't discard us when we seem no longer "useful" to him
  • who isn't just "using" us
  • who isn't just tolerating us but really likes our company
  • who actually enjoys our company
  • who truly enjoys hearing all we have to say
  • who never judges or criticizes
  • who always builds us up, never tears us down'
  • who won't kick us when we're down
  • who WANTS us for a friend
  • who thinks we're amazing, wonderful, and worth knowing
  • who is actually blessed by our companionship
  • who will faithfully keep all our secrets
  • who won't ever desert us or abandon us
  • who will always be there for us
  • who just loves our times of being together
  • who is faithful no matter what
  • who lets us be real
  • who accepts us as we are 
  • who doesn't demand that we change or improve 
  • who always speaks to us in love
  • who won't be driven away by our rants and quirks and failures
  • who still loves us even when we lash out at him
  • who feels our pain and cares about our hurts
  • who truly understands us, always
  • who says we're his best friend
  • who won't replace us sometime with someone he likes more
  • who does everything in his power to help us and encourage us
  • who is there for us whenever we need him
  • who delights in and celebrates our personality
  • who won't ever be irritable or angry with us
  • who will be our BEST FRIEND forever
Thank You, Lord, that You are our Best Friend!  It amazes me that You want me around, that You won't discard or desert me, that You treat me as Your best friend and see this friendship as so important and valuable to You that You would be dying to have us in fellowship!  I have always felt so lonely, always felt people were just tolerating me, and that once they found out what I was really like  they would leave.  I have always wanted a friend who would truly love me for me and not leave me.  I have found that Friend in You a thousand times over.  You are all I could ever hope for in a Friend and in a God!  Thank You forever!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for me, the truth that God keeps bringing me back to, the truth I need to hear every day of my life, the foundation of my whole way of living, now and forever, is expressed so well in this quote from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning:

"...through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son.  This is the good News, the gospel of grace."

Wow! We have been put into a right relationship with God through Jesus' work.  There is nothing wrong with our relationship with God and there never will be, no matter what sin or confusion or doubt we may experience.  There is nothing wrong with our relationship with God; instead, there is everything right with our relationship with Him! 

This is a perfect relationship where everything is always fine between us, even after we blow it, even if we fail to pray today, even if circumstances suddenly go crazy.  We will always be in that beautiful place, safe in His arms, forgiven and whole, accepted and cradled, loved and valued, alive and vibrant, full and free, carried through in strength and hope and triumph - safely home, at peace, at rest, in fellowship with the One who truly cherishes us and looks on us with delight, forever! 

And to think - we have that wonderful joyous relationship for free, as a gift, simply to be received with the "Thank You, Daddy!" of simple faith.  That is beautiful!  What a glorious gospel is the gospel of grace!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grace and Getting a Smile...

"The Gospel is not the message of what we must do to get a SMILE on the face of God.  It is the message about what HE HAS DONE to get a SMILE ON YOUR FACE.      The GOSPEL soooo gooood.  It reveals GOD! How can we then but LOVE HIM?"
                                                                                        Bertie Brits

Wow, I'd never thought of it that way before...what a wonderful truth!

This quote makes me think of the wonder of the gospel of grace!  It reminds me that God wasn't the One who had a problem and needed to be placated.  He has always loved us humans and has always been on our side, wanting us to know Him.  He has been longing for restored fellowship with us since that fateful day of the Fall back in Eden.  We were the ones with the problem - sin had altered our perception of God, and our shame and feelings of guilt were keeping us from approaching Him with any kind of confidence.  We couldn't understand or enjoy His love.  We were trapped in the confused and distorted lies of sin.

So He did everything possible to put that smile back on our face, that smile in knowing without a doubt we are loved and cared for by God.  While we were still sinners, He showed that love for us by Christ's own death for us.  He took upon Himself the guilt and shame we felt, took upon us that old sin nature that gave us such a distorted and erroneous view of God and which controlled us and brought us to ruin.  He took away every sin and reconciled us to God (not God to us, He always loved us and wanted us near!) - wow!

The whole work of the cross wasn't to get an angry God to finally calm down enough to tolerate having us in His presence without destroying us.  NO!  The whole point of the cross was to win our hearts back!  To open our eyes to the One who has loved us from eternity past, before there ever was a world, before we ever sinned, before anything.  To draw us back into His arms, the arms that long to hold us forever!

He thinks you're worth knowing.  You are a pearl of great price, so precious and valuable to Him that He gave up everything to have you with Him.  He thinks you're worth dying for!  The Love we've longed for all our life not only exists, it's ours right now and forever!  The gospel message isn't "do this or that and hope to get on His good side."  It's "All is forgiven, come home, I can't bear to be without you!"  Amazing love!  The gospel is such good news!  It truly does bring a smile to our face, and it is so true - how can we NOT love such a wonderful and beautiful God?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Peace Be Still



You are our only peace when our world turns upside down.

You are the Only One who can calm our troubled hearts.

You are the only place we can find refuge and rest for our weary souls.

Thank You, dear Lord, for being our Peace!

Here are the lyrics from "Peace Be Still" by Rush of Fools:

Come to Me, you who are weak
Let My strength be yours tonight
Come and rest, let My love be your bed
Let My heart be yours tonight

Come empty cup, let Me fill you up
I'll descend on you like a dove tonight
Lift your head, let your eyes fall into Mine
Let your fear subside tonight

Peace be still, Peace be still
Please be still and know that I am God
and know that I am God
                                                                            Rush of Fools

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spring Flowers



 Here are some Spring flowers from around our yard..my daughter took the photos..

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sufficient Grace

Sometimes I look at my weakness, my performance and my believing, and I say, "Lord, it's not sufficient."

But God looks at His grace and love and Christ's performance and believing, and He says, "It's more than sufficient."

I am totally accepted and qualified and righteous FOR FREE, not because of anything in me or my works, but because of what Christ did.  His work on my behalf stands for all time, perfect and blameless!

Now THAT'S something (Someone!) I can rest in with confidence! 

"Faith is the awareness of His grace."  (Sammy Bilyeu)
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