Thursday, September 29, 2011

T is for...




Monday, September 26, 2011

When people "un-friend" you

The other day, a friend of mine, "un-friended" me on Facebook. It hurt. This friend is dear to me, and I did nothing to warrant his "un-friending." Matter of fact, I love this friend. But, he, like so many people on this planet, became numb by tragedy. The death of a father ended in the loss of a son. He still lives in the flesh, but he's angry at God. I have spent truly a lifetime trying to help this friend. I have been a shoulder for him when his dad died. I have comforted him, and gently answered his questions about faith and life and God. I have counseled him through thoughts of suicide, worthlessness, and severe depression. I have tried to show Him the God that I know personally. I have cried for him. I've been on my knees for him. I have wanted to stuff truth into his heart and mind, because I don't want Him to know the despair that is Hell. Please don't think for a second that I have shoved the gospel down his throat. I don't shove. Christ doesn't shove. He gently loves us and gives us each a choice to believe or go another way. 
So many people think that Christians stand in judgement over their lives and they never give Christ a chance to show them the truth about salvation. And I understand why some people get the wrong idea. I have been burned by Christians myself. I have felt the sting of rejection from people that I thought would love me as Christ has loved them. But, don't let humanity stand in between you and a loving relationship with a perfect God. See, I am not perfect. Christians are not perfect. But, Christ was. He wants a relationship with you.

If I could stuff that truth into your heart, I would do it. But, I can only tell you who God is to me. I can tell you how he saved my life, how He delivered me from death. I can tell you about each answered prayer, some answered when I never uttered a word out loud. I can tell you about every dream that He has put within me (even when they seemed crazy at the time) and show you how He has caused them to surface over time. Yet, at the end of the day, I can only speak for me. I will stand in my own shoes when He returns and you will stand in yours.
"...On the day when, according to my gospel, "God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus." Romans 2: 16

Did you hear that? 

"What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:4-7

It is through a relationship with Jesus Christ that you become God's child. Let Him in. What do you have to lose? You can "un-friend" God, but He will never "un-friend" you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I remember

Do you? I remember the day I gave my life to Christ. I was six. I remember being very burdened at the thought of my sin, of being separated from a God who wanted a relationship with me.  I was in awe of Heaven and the Master-plan I saw behind it all, behind existence and my own life.

It just made such sense. 

I could look down at my six-year-old body and think, "This makes sense." Look at my body. Everything moves, grows, and is wired unlike any man-made contraption or device. The ability to see, the ability to think, all of the "behind-the-scenes" things that happen in our bodies every single day.

I understood. 
At six.

 I have been a little weather bug since I was a child. I could look around at the Earth and think, "This makes sense." Look at the ocean how it stops and doesn't just keep coming. It has boundaries. Look at all the animals, how there is order among them, yet just as the Bible stories said "Man is above them in dominance." Look at the weather, how storms build and grow and shower us. I could see power in tornadoes and hurricanes and know that Someone designed this place. Someone designed me. 

Do you know what that means? It doesn't mean that I was a genius six-year-old. No, I was plain. Awkwardly tall, average, with above average feet actually. I was scared of things, like many children are. My feelings got hurt on the playground, I colored pictures for my teacher. I had imaginary friends and pretended I was Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet riding "The Pie."

I was a child. 
I remember. 

So, what does it mean? It means that a Holy God, looks down and scans the Earth and sends forth His Holy Spirit to reveal the things which we do not know. It means He takes time. It means He wants to know us personally. It means that we can look around us and know that God exists.

"For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1: 20-23

Just to know that He exists is not enough. The devil knows God exists. He just doesn't worship Him, doesn't obey Him, and seeks to blind us from the truth. Knowing God comes through a personal relationship with Christ. I believe that Christ is coming back very soon for His children. And it is my deepest desire that you don't miss Him. Do you remember? If you can't think back to a time when you know that Christ set you free through salvation. I pray that today is the day of remembrance for you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Learning to break the rules

I run my fingers over the keyboard seeking inspiration. It wanes. Some days the words seem stuck and I trip over my own need to connect with God the way I desperately want others to connect with Him. 
God's been showing me that when I can't plug in to Him like I want, it's usually because I've put some kind of rule on myself. Rules that He hasn't even put on me. These rules are impenetrable walls of concrete. They erect themselves between me and grace. They are a impassable chasms that keep His mercy from entering in. They keep us under the law when we are under grace.  
Is anyone else like this? The pharisees were this way. The Son of God walked among them and yet they missed Him because of their rules. Their rules would lead them down a path of death. Too smart to live. Too foolish to recognize. Too bound by their rules to receive salvation. Could it be possible that the God of the universe is teaching me to break the rules?  
Jesus was a rule-breaker. He dined with tax collectors, healed people on the Sabbath, talked with prostitutes, and broke societal norms. 
And they killed Him for it.  
I'm learning to break the rules a little more each day. And by the grace of God, this kind of rule-breaking is making me look more like Christ. 

Will you break the rules with me today?  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bowls of Mercy

It always amazes me how I can miss the work of God in my life. Even when I search daily for His presence, His activity, and His purpose, sometimes, I just miss it. It stares boldly back at me in black and white, yet I can't receive it for all the worry and spinning and toiling. I often stuff my mind full with questions about His movement. 
The how's...the when's...the why's that sometimes never get answered. 
In my pondering, God continues to lead me to Gideon.
See, Gideon was raw with honesty. When the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior. Gideon said to him, "Oh my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying, "Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?"..."And the Lord looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" Judges 6:12,13a, & 14

Don't you just love his humanity? It's not that he didn't believe in the Lord. He knew the miracle stories passed to him, generation to generation. But, Gideon didn't believe in Gideon. And God is like: Gideon, I've got you. This is G-O-D you are talking to. 
And Gideon continues to doubt the call of God on his life...

"And he said to Him, "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh and I am the youngest in my father's house." verse 15
 Later on, Gideon is still not convinced. He asks God, "If Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou has spoken, behold I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou has spoken." And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water." 
verses 36-38
And still Gideon doubted. 
You know why I love Gideon so much?
 I make up rules. I complicate God's free gift of grace and love. I am blinded by the rules of man, the workings of our culture, the hierarchy of our society.
Yet, through every doubt and burning question I so desperately want God to use me, but I question if I'm enough. If God can be enough in me. I know the stories. Don't we all know that our God parted seas, raised the dead, and turned water into wine?  Yet, sometimes it's easier for us to believe in those big miracles than to believe that God wants us. That He might choose to take our foolishness and our biggest failures in life and make them living examples of the radical love and saving grace of Christ Jesus. 
Sometimes I can't see what's right in front of my face. That Christ is enough. That my fleece is full already. An entire bowl full of mercy. That He only needs my willingness. He only needs my "yes." And when you can believe that Christ only needs your yes, you'll see your bowl overflowing. You'll see life in an entirely new light. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The gift of Free

On Monday, over 2,200 people downloaded, The Sounds of Night, for free. You know what was most amazing about that? Most of the downloads were from countries that don't have the religious freedom we have here in the United States. Think of just how free we are. Let it soak in.
May we remember all the men and women that work each day to allow us to write blogs, speak our minds, attend church, and BELIEVE. See, the power of free goes beyond giveaways and book downloads. It has a point of origination in time. It soaks through as the color RED. It spills and floods hearts and minds that allow it to reside there. Freedom is only found through Christ and it links us straight to God Himself.
 Do you struggle with belief? Is it hard for you to get Christ's infinite love tucked in your mind and heart?  I struggle some days too. Sometimes it's hard to look at my imperfections and see myself through the RED. Yet, it doesn't change the reality that I'm covered in God's grace because Christ is my Lord. My doubt is covered. Your doubt is covered in spilled blood. The disciples were filled with doubt. The very men that God chose, the 12 imperfect men, that Jesus appointed to carry the gospel through the ages, were doubters. They struggled with the notion of free. They struggled with receiving the power of Christ.

See, what Jesus said to Thomas in John 14:5-7: "Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." The gift of free. It starts in Christ. I pray that you will take your free gift and tuck it inside today.