Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Bad Guys Are Real

Bad Guys Are Real, sin, grace, eternal life

I love how she chatters when it’s just her and me in the van, her sweet, soft voice breaking through the unusual quiet as we travel. I point out two military jets flying overhead and she asks if they are carrying a lot of people.

“Well, no, these jets are carrying soldiers who work hard to protect us, protect our country,” I explain.

“They protect us? Like from bad guys?  Mommy, are bad guys real?”  Her voice gets quiet.

I want to tell her, “no.” I want to make her feel safe and secure, but the truth is that bad guys are real.  “Yes, they are real, sis. Some people want to hurt others and do bad things.”

From the front seat, I imagine her eyes growing wide with this information. “Because they don’t love God?” She questions, so smart yet so innocent for all of her five years.

daughter, are bad guys real?, good vs. evil, sin, Jesus, grace, eternal life

I want to tell her, “yes.” Yes, bad guys are bad because they don’t know or love God.  They are bad because they hurt others.  They are bad because they have evil inside, and they do unspeakable things.  That would be the quick and easy explanation, right?

But it’s not the whole truth, is it, this idea that some are bad and some are good?  The truth is we all have evil inside.  We’re all bad in a sense; it’s called sin.  So once again I stop myself from making it sound that simple in favor of telling her the truth.

bad guys, none righteous, we all sin

“Well, yes, some bad guys probably don’t know God or love Him.  But really we all have the ability to be bad.  We all have sin inside of us, and we all make wrong choices sometimes.  It’s only because we believe that Jesus paid the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross that we can choose good instead. That’s the only real difference between the bad guys and the good guys – Jesus.  Without Him we would all be bad guys.”

She falls quiet then for a while, and I know she’s thinking about what I said. I hope and I pray that she really gets it.  That there is nothing good in us, nothing deserving, nothing “better than.”  

Because more than anything I want my sweet, dark-haired beauty of a daughter to know that she cannot, she cannot, be good on her own. She needs Jesus. She needs grace.

bad guys, wages of sin, unrighteous, sin leads to death, eternal life is a gift

Even more than that, I want her to realize that we all need it, this grace, this unmerited, unearned, undeserved, unfathomable gift from a Father God who deigned to love us, a bunch of bad guys, enough to sacrifice His one and only Son.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us,

in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 5:8

Yes, my daughter, bad guys are real.

But praise be to God,

Jesus is real, too.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: My Freshly Brewed Life, Managing Your Blessings, Mom’s The Word, Wholehearted Home, Messy Marriage,

Jennifer Dukes Lee, Rich Faith Rising

You may find me linking with any of these lovely blogs.

 

 

Advertisements
10 Comments »

The Pastor’s Mulligan

pastor's mulligan. do-over, second chance, ministry life, pastor's wife, forgiveness, grace

We woke at our usual Sunday-morning times and showered and bathed the little ones.  We ate breakfast and dressed in our Sunday-morning clothes and tied shoes and added bows to ponytails.  The morning routine was going relatively smoothly until the phone rang.

I heard my husband say, “Aw, man.”

Concerned, I called out from the next room, “What’s wrong?”

“We’re late!  I forgot it was the start of daylight savings!”

For most church-going families, this would result in either skipping Sunday School altogether or making a red-face, apologetically late entrance.

But I’m married to the Pastor.

So, forgetting to “spring forward” meant people sitting in the sanctuary, sitting and waiting on us.

At first, the perfectionist in me was sorely tempted to give in to crankiness.  Why would the Lord allow us to make such a noticeable and embarrassing mistake?!  How could we have missed daylight savings?!

Somehow, I had missed every possible reminder of the upcoming time change and was honestly clueless.  Right then and there, I decided blaming God wasn’t going to help and neither was blaming myself.  Although forgetting to change our clocks was incredibly humiliating and humbling (and it WAS), it could not have been prevented in any way.

So, when my husband, the pastor, received the call that meant we were shamefully late, I decided to let it go, to trust the Lord, knowing my own conscience was clear.  Knowing that while others might have the right to complain, we could handle it with grace.

You see, the Father’s been teaching me lately how little the approval of men matters in the larger scheme of things.  He’s been teaching me instead to look towards His Son for the approval that I seek. He’s been stretching my ideas about grace.

By the time we made it to church, wet hair and all, Sunday School was already halfway over, but we made the best of it.  I was a little afraid my husband might be chastised, but thankfully our small, country church is full of kind and gracious folks.

And wouldn’t you know the Lord had a word for us today, a word for me.

Because my husband preached on Jonah and the people of Nineveh.  He proclaimed that our God is the God of mulligans, second-chances, do-overs, try-agains.  And we, the pastor and his family, had been exceedingly, embarrassingly late to church that morning. 🙂

pastor's mulligan, second chances, forgiveness, grace, pastor's wife

Wait – it gets even better!  The very best part of God extending a mulligan to the people of Nineveh (and to those of us who trust in Him today) is that no record of previous wrongs exists. The second chance takes the place of the first, wipes it completely out of existence, as if it never, ever happened.

That argument with your husband – wiped out.  Those harsh words spoken to your children – wiped out.  The thoughts you had about that hard-to-get-along-with person – wiped out.  The extra bites of brownie you took – wiped out.  The time you wasted on frivolous things – wiped out.  The decision to ignore the Holy Spirit so you could have more “me” time – wiped out.  The worry, the coveting, the greed, the jealousy, the impatience, the lack of self-discipline, all of it – wiped out.

Sometimes we don’t realize how guilty we’ve allowed the Enemy to make us until we’re reminded of the second chance, the mulligan.  Sometimes we forget that even though life gets hard and our sin nature pulls at us so and we feel helpless, the final battle is already won,  just as we sang in our closing hymn this morning:

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And has shed His own blood for my soul.”

pastor's mulligan, grace for pastor's and pastor's wives, second chances, forgiveness

We forget that our sins have already been pardoned, mulligan-ed, wiped away:

“My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more…”

And the victory that is ours to cling to will come.  It will come.  It will come, sisters.

“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.”

Because by the blood of the Father’s son, Jesus, we possess unlimited mulligans.

Even pastors.

Even their wives.

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

And in our humility, we see clearly His greatness.

Jen 🙂

*You may also find me at any of these lovely places.

12 Comments »

Confessions of a Holiday Hypocrite

Rewind a month and a half to the beginning of December last year.  The hope and joy of  the Christmas season lay spread before me as thoughts  of maximizing holiday fun and education swirled through my head.  On this blog, I shared with you our plans for the Christmas Adventure Box and other Christmas traditions.   I envisioned handmade gifts and peaceful evenings at home near the brightly lit tree. I had the best laid plans…and like many best laid plans, they went awry.

Yes, I fell prey to Pinterest Syndrome, quite deadly to a mama’s often already shaky confidence.  Pinterest Syndrome begins with a few deceptively simple ideas, really good ideas mind you, but it grows into a nasty and surprisingly strong anticipation of all things good and no things ordinary or, heaven forbid, even bad.  Expectations soar to incredible heights, destined to plummet at the first sign of potential failure.  And here I thought I was creating a “simple” Christmas this year… (I’ll forgive you if you snicker a little at this point.)

In my defense, the holiday season was progressing suspiciously well for our family.  Thanksgiving came and went with no major incidents, unlike years past.  Everyone was healthy for the moment, a rare winter treat in a family of six.  My husband and I even managed to put up the Christmas tree and lights with no arguing and minimal frustration, despite the circus of craziness that four enthusiastic children create when forced to wait.  We felt like champions!  We had conquered a pattern of holiday frustration for the first time in years!

Then somewhere along the line, life began to get very real.  Our youngest son, four years old,  decided the holiday season would be a good time to test our parental authority, especially at family gatherings and in other publicly humiliating places including the church Christmas play dress rehearsal.  Not exactly the peace I had anticipated.  Our budget grew tight.  I grew stressed about all of the things on my list.

On top of all of that, we became suddenly busy with all of the typical holiday concerts and gatherings.  So much for those quiet evenings at home listening to my favorite Christmas cds. Instead we hustled back and forth from our children’s school to the church, to  the store, to family gatherings, and so forth.  And it was all fun and good and mostly necessary, but it does make one a little weary. 🙂

bare tree, winter, disappointment

For the most part, I was able to maintain the joy and hope of the season, after all there was a lot of sweet memory-making sprinkled into the mix, but I held onto a dark secret.

After all of the praise and promise of the Christmas Adventure Box that I shared with you, we didn’t even manage to do it this year!  At all.  Nothing.  Nada. Zip.  It just didn’t happen.  In fact, the only traditions we managed to hang onto after the decorating of our tree were the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible and our Christmas Eve supper.  I didn’t even attempt to mail out Christmas cards and I had no pictures available for family members like I usually would.  I felt like a failure.

Add to that  a little family drama and my carefully planned and highly anticipated season of hope and joy crumbled before me.  The disappointment that followed was slightly bitter and came with a side dose of  viral illness, as well as over a foot of snow, that kept me and most of our children cooped up at home for weeks…. literally.

I could have blogged about it, but to be honest, I felt unworthy.  I struggled with the disappointment and the frustrations of life that were getting in my way.  And so like most hypocrites, especially those who succumb to Pinterest Syndrome on occasion, I hid from you all.   I quit writing.  I quit taking pictures.  I made excuses and planned to resume in the new year.  And when I was finally struck with the viral plague that entered our home, I wallowed in my misery.  For a few days, God and I were barely on speaking terms. 🙂

Honestly, I’m not sad that I took time away from writing here to spend on such a worthy cause as family time.  But I am disappointed in my hypocritical self, not so much for failing to get the Christmas Adventure Box done – after all, it’s not the most important thing in life and sometimes as mamas we have to pare life down to just the nitty gritty in order to survive with sanity (and with a family who still loves us and wants to be around us…). 🙂

My disappointment is more in my hiding away in blogger shame and silence.

The thing is that I believe in Grace, I really do.  I’m very aware that without Grace, I’d be a hopeless mess, truly I would.  With Grace I still have nothing to boast about except for a God who gives second chances, and third, and fourth, to infinity and eternity, a God who loves me deeply for who I am, not for who the world thinks I should be, a God who through the blood of Jesus, sees the best version of me even when I’m acting my worst.  But like many mamas, I have a hard time extending that grace to my own self.

So, I confess.  I’ve been a Holiday Hypocrite.  In fact, I could be called an everyday hypocrite, too,  because I’m far from perfect, so far.  I still lose my temper. I still forget important events. I still argue with my husband and become impatient with my children.  I’m still selfish with my time.  I’m still prideful.  I still say “no” to the Holy Spirit in so many ways.  I’m still learning who God made me to be.

But that’s the beauty of our journey, sisters, that we get chance after chance to do things differently.  Those failures we feel so deeply are not the end of the story.  We are given infinite opportunities to let our Father God change who we are, from the inside out.  And that good work He began in saving us from a life of sin, He promises to continue to the very end.  We can have complete confidence in that!

red berries, winter, hope

So, keep up the good work, my sisters in Christ, even if your holidays or your New Years failed to live up to your expectations. Fight the good fight.  Run the good race.  And when you fail or fall, let Him pick your hypocritical self  back up again and hold you for a while, heal your wounds if needed, and send you off on your way , but not alone for He runs alongside you.

Don’t let those fiery darts from the Enemy bog you down, not now, but put on the full armor of God so you will stand firm in your faith. No more hiding away, no more pretending to be something we are not, no more fearing what the world thinks.  Just being okay with the fact that we are sinners, helpless and hopeless sinners, but He loves us anyways.  And His work is not yet complete.

“Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 115:1

Jen 🙂

You may also find me linking up with any of these lovely blogs.

4 Comments »

Welcome to the Sisterhood

I’m linking this up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday today (even though I wrote it this afternoon) because she chose the word Grace, which I obviously had already written on today! 🙂  Funny how that works out sometimes.  I considered writing another post, but I just feel like this is fitting.  So, I hope my Five Minute Friday friends don’t mind too much. 🙂  It took way more than 5 minutes, but shouldn’t take much longer than that to read!

When this blog first began, I mentioned that God created all of us sisters in Christ unique from one another, and that He did so with a purpose!  Lately, I’ve been reminded of that fact.  Not only are we unique as individuals, but our walks with the Lord will be unique from one another, as well.  Thus, the ways in which we live out our faith will vary from person to person.

Paul describes it well in Romans 14:

 1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters…

 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.

And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

My weaknesses and strengths will not be the same as your weaknesses and strengths, amen?!  Unfortunately, because they are different, I’ll be tempted to compare myself to you, my sisters in Christ, and you to me.  As a work-in-progress woman, I’m still learning how to have confidence in the woman God has created me to be.

However, as much as I loathe this tendency to compare, I see another, more destructive risk to this comparison game, the risk of self-righteousness.  You see, sometimes I compare myself to another sister in Christ and find her lacking, instead. (Gasp!  Shock and Awe!  Let’s be honest – it happens more often than we like to admit.)

Of course, it’s not always quite that blatant; sin rarely is.  But these thoughts that I don’t even want to acknowledge slowly creep in.  I’m so thankful my children are well-behaved (….because so-and-so certainly needs to get a handle on hers).  Or perhaps you hide it more cleverly in thoughts like this – I’ve studied the scriptures, so my position is biblical (which would make any opposing position unbiblical by default).  When we start thinking we have the corner on the market in knowledge, wisdom, or understanding, look out!  We are due for a major fall

Self-righteousness – thinking we can somehow make ourselves right.

How I wish I fell prey to it less often!

Self-righteousness centers around actions and outward appearances rather than the heart itself.   Oh, how we like to focus on the outward rather than the inward, sisters.  I know because I struggle with it, too!

And that right there is the problem: the tendency to quantify and qualify that which we cannot!  The truth is, we’re all on equal footing, all saved by grace alone and not by works, so that we might not boast.  But how often do we find ourselves boasting in our minds and hearts? I readily admit; I’m just as guilty.  God’s grace cannot be qualified.  We cannot and dare not attach strings to something He gives freely!  And oh, is His grace big, my sisters!  It’s so much more than what I can imagine.

Grace, sisters in Christ, freedom in Christ

You may parent differently, dress differently, celebrate differently, eat differently, educate differently, and on and on.  And the truth is – that’s okay.   Part of finding confidence in Christ, learning to be who He created us to be, is also learning to extend that same grace and freedom to others.  Can I not rejoice in the freedom to be me, yet still celebrate your freedom to be you?

More truth from Romans 14:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. (emphasis mine)

What is the pleasing way?  It is not “a matter of eating and drinking,” not a matter of the details, rather it is a matter of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” choosing to live by the Spirit.  That choice brings to mind 1 Cor. 10:3:1

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

In the scope of eternity, the “whatever” doesn’t matter, sisters!  The “glory of God” is what matters.  Do you see it?! 🙂

I want to shout for joy because our God is so good and gracious!  He knows our tendencies to get caught up in frivolous arguments.  He spells it out for us – whatever you do – whichever choice you make – if God’s glory is truly the motivation, then go for it, sister!

sisters in Christ, freedom and grace, not judgement, unity, Body of Christ

If we, fellow sisters in Christ, cannot celebrate each other’s choices to follow hard after the Lord, then who can we celebrate with?  This world certainly won’t be encouraging and celebrating us in our efforts to live worthy of the calling we have received.  Such self-destructive behavior can only be celebrated by the enemy, that twister of truth, creator of lies.  And I, for one, do not wish to give him any cause for celebration!

 “Beloved, let us love one another,” 1 John 4:7

We are sisters in Christ.

Let’s build each other up in love, lest we all fall prey to the enemy who seeks to devour.

 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

Romans 14:19

United in Christ,

united in Love.

Welcome to the sisterhood,

and let the celebrations begin!

Jen 🙂

I’m linking up with any of these lovely blogs.

6 Comments »

Like a Proud Big Brother

One day after our seven-year-old’s soccer game, he waited in line at the concession stand.  The rest of the family waited a few feet away, arms full of camping chairs and water bottles, ready to head back to our trusty minivan.  I watched as our son’s easy grin lit up his face while he talked animatedly with a teammate behind him.  His team had remained undefeated, and he was on cloud nine!  He called out to his younger brother to come over and join them.

As the four-year-old boy bounced closer to him, our middle son’s smile widened and his eyes crinkled.  He bent down to the younger’s level “This is my brother, ” he told his teammate. “Say, hi!” he encouraged the four-year-old.  Pride shone forth from his face as he talked about how he teaches his younger brother and sister how to “do sports” and how they listen to him and do what he says.  He put his arm around the four-year-old in a protective and possessive way, completely pleased to be the big brother.  “Gimme five,” he instructed.  The younger brother gladly obliged and bounced back to where the family waited.

Then, he called over his younger sister, also four, and the scenario played out all over again. She giggling and he smiling in her face.  Her quick wave to the teammate was cute and girly.  She, too, gave a five and then pranced back to join us.

I listened as the two teammates in line continued to converse. “So, they’re like your minions?!” the other boy asked, impressed.  “Yeah, pretty much. They’re my minions.” our seven-year-old nodded his head in affirmation.

As I laughed quietly, I realized how true it is.  They are his minions.

They trust him.  They listen to him.  And most of the time, they do his bidding.  But he also cares for them.  He helps them.  He plays with them.  He loves on them.  He gives things to them.  And when his friends are around, he introduces them with such beaming pride that you would think he birthed those two four-year-olds himself! 🙂

I didn’t think much more of that conversation until later that week when I attended a Beth Moore simulcast.  She spoke on grace and law, how we often trust grace for salvation, but we fail to trust it in our everyday lives.  Instead, we walk as if still under the law, guilty and defeated, when we could be living free and victorious!  

At the end of the day, Beth brought our attention to the fact that we, who are in Christ, are fully accepted by God; there is nothing more or less we can do to “please” Him.  Then, she ended with a speech given to us, one phrase at a time, to repeat to a partner. It was a speech of words about who we are in Christ, and a speech about how Jesus would present us, His sisters of inheritance.

As I spoke the words aloud to my partner, I suddenly recalled my seven-year-old’s beaming face.

And I was undone.

Because that’s exactly how Jesus feels about each one of us, my sisters!  He’s the proud big brother, and in His eyes, through His love, we are something to be joyful about.  

Jesus, our brother

With a smile on His face, He calls me over, puts His arm around my shoulder, and proclaims for all to hear,

“Father, this is my sister, Jen.  Isn’t she great?

Look how beautiful she is!  I love her so much that I willingly gave my life for her, covered her sins in my blood.

She is infinitely precious to me, a daughter of the King.”

The Father smiles in agreement.

The Christ-brother holds out His hand for a celebratory five.

And the angels rejoice!

Jen 🙂

To read Beth’s commissioning prayer (and other goodies from the simulcast – like the Grace Poem), click here.

To find me linking up, check these lovely blogs.

8 Comments »

The Honeymoon is Over

we do not lose heart

It was bound to happen eventually.  I’ve only been blogging for a few months now, so I don’t really have much experience to go on.  But I think I can say with some certainty that the blogging honeymoon is over.

Blogging, like so many other things in life, was so fascinating and exciting when it was new to me.  Every view was cherished, every comment celebrated.  Some days I would check the blog first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  It’s the truth; I think I became just a tiny bit obsessed! Maybe, just maybe, I even made an idol of it, to my shame.

I do that, though. I throw myself into new things with such enthusiasm, such big plans and dreams.  And then somewhere along the line, it stops being quite so much fun and starts to feel more like work, like just another burden to carry.

Some of you might be thinking, but it’s just a blog! To a certain extent, you’d be correct.  It doesn’t feel like “just” a blog to me, though.  It feels like part of me that I’ve put on display for the world to see.  And there are these nifty little graphs that measure that part of me day by day by day… And some days they just don’t measure up to what I’d like to see. No matter how high they reach, there seems to be this desire for more. And the inspiration isn’t always there.  And busy schedules get in the way.

And sometimes…

I just want to give up.

Let’s be honest.  It happens to all of us!  When that new baby comes home smelling so sweet, and everyone is exclaiming “how perfect”…when that new job is so exciting that you just can’t wait to go to work, and people tell you how happy they are to have you there…when that new ministry that you’ve been planning for and dreaming of finally comes to fruition…when you make that purchase that you’ve been saving up for and it’s just. so. cool….when that mountaintop experience leads you to a faith high that just can’t be matched.

Inevitably, a valley follows that mountain.  That perfect baby that slept so well in the hospital cries all night long, night after night after night.  That new job has its own set of challenges.  That new ministry has flaws, too.  That new purchase grows old or outdated. Thus the mountain gives way to a valley.  And those feelings that had us on cloud nine in the mountains leave us, and we wish for more.

But our spiritual lives are not lived just on the mountain tops.  In fact, those mountain tops most likely add up to a very small part of our faith journey. The truth is that the valleys often naturally follow the mountains , not because anything has changed but because our physiology is built that way.  Our bodies cannot sustain a constant state of  “high,” so we must experience a “low” to bring us back to equilibrium.  And perhaps even more because we were not meant for this imperfect world, so we yearn for something better.

While I know that my faith isn’t built on feelings, as a woman emotions do come into play!  How often I’ve wished those pesky emotions away even though I know they serve a purpose. 🙂

So what’s a girl to do when she just gets a case of the blahs and the blogging honeymoon seems to be over?  She recognizes the valley for what it is – temporary.  She remembers that she is not a citizen of this world. She blogs anyways because that’s what God led her to do,   just like she mothers anyways, she loves anyways, she trusts anyways, she clings to His promises anyways, she speaks truth anyways, she leads anyways, and she hopes anyways.

She keeps seeking.  Sometimes she even stumbles and falls, and she’s so ashamed of her weakness.  But He’s right  there to help her back up again.  Along the way, she learns a little more of the unfathomable depth of God’s grace.   She grows a little more confident in an overwhelming, unconditional love. She grows a little more confident in His timely provision. She grows a little more confident in the work He’s doing within her.

Because He promised that one day, one glorious day, that work would be complete.

And the valleys will be gone.

And the mountain top lasts for all eternity.

And  we see His face.

So we wait, like so many others before us.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,

let us also lay aside every encumbrance

and the sin which so easily entangles us,

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,

despising the shame,

and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility

by sinners against Himself,

so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

And we don’t lose heart.

Jen 🙂

32 Comments »

A Savior Who Never Grows Weary

I’m privileged to attend a women’s bible study on Tuesday mornings most weeks.  We’re currently studying the book of Hebrews in depth, and this week the focus was on the latter part of chapter seven.

In this chapter, the author spends a great deal of space demonstrating why Jesus is the ultimate High Priest, even greater than Melchizedek, who was a pillar of the Hebrew faith. Because Jesus is eternal, He is superior.  Because He is perfect, blameless, He is superior.  Because He continues to intercede on our behalf at the Father’s right hand, He is superior.

Hebrews 7

“23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”

When asked to reflect on these verses, the end of verse 25 jumped out at me.  “He always lives to make intercession for them.” That is His purpose at the right hand of the Father, to intercede on my behalf, continuously, for all of eternity.

Did you catch that?  Our risen Savior didn’t just choose us at the cross. He chooses us now; defends us now; redeems us now; intercedes for us now, moment by moment, forever and ever, hallelujah! 

I often grow weary of my children (let’s be honest, now :)). I often grow weary of my husband, of others, and sometimes I even grow weary of my Lord. My love fails.

But His love never fails.  

He never grows weary of being my Savior.

He never grows weary

It wasn’t just a one-time act, that choice to suffer on the cross, that forgiveness of even the most unpardonable sins. He continues to act on my behalf, acts for my forgiveness, over and over again. Today, and the next day, and for all of eternity.

As humans, we cannot even come close to that kind of love!  In fact, even our most sacred vows end with ” til death do us part.” One day we will come to an end, and with that end, our imperfect love will also cease.  We says things like, “I’ll love you forever” but that promise is impossible for us to keep.  And even if we manage to love one another for a lifetime, our love  is full of faults, imperfections, wounds, conditions.

But His love is not our love. He alone can keep the promise of a perfect, forever love.  Our High Priest claims us time and time again. “Father, you see that one right there?  I chose her. I died for her.  Her sin is covered by my blood.  She belongs to us now. I call her beloved.  I love her as she is.”

Oh, the overwhelming grace!  It’s almost painful in its power.  It floods us and we drown in it, dying to self and rising anew.  Rising to bone-deep gratefulness.  Rising to undeserved confidence in our eternal position. Rising to true love.

Grace floods us

If you’re feeling low-down and unworthy today, unloved or under-appreciated, overwhelmed by sin or temptation or trials, or maybe just a little weary of life in general, remember who your Savior is.

He is real.

His love is real.

And it never ceases.

He sits at the right hand of the Father and proclaims, “Covered by my blood, covered by my blood.”

Rise anew, beloved, rise anew.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: A Little R&R

See the Favorite Link-ups tab on my sidebar to find the other blogs I’ll be linking to.

19 Comments »

Be a Transformer

Have you ever put off saying (or posting) something because you feared the repercussions, how it might be received?  If so, then this post is for you.  Even as I wrote it, and re-wrote it, I felt that same fear because being bold in my witness does not come naturally to me, rather it usually results from conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, I have put off posting this message for too long now, and God has  convicted me that I’m not trusting in the Him, the God “who goes before me.” I have spent hours crafting the message so that it will hopefully ring true without causing a permanent loss of hearing. 🙂

So I hope that when you read it, you will consider my heart (even though some of you might hardly know me).  My heart beats for God’s people and for His truth, it yearns for us all to strive toward Christ-likeness not for the sake of personal pride or satisfaction with self, but for the sake of His glory, that His name and His Truth should be known around the world!  My heart aches for the lost, those who are searching for His Truth without even knowing it.  You can blame my parents for this since I spent a great deal of my growing up years as a missionary kid. But that’s another story for another time.   Today I want to ask you some tough questions in relation to the following verse:

do not conform

Recent conversations on Facebook and other media outlets have opened my eyes to a developing trend in Christianity today.  Being a Bible-believing, truth-defending, Christ-follower is no longer popular even in many Christian circles!

Somewhere along the line, some of us Christ-followers have become so conformed to this world that we are afraid and/or unwilling to take a stand on issues that the Bible clearly addresses.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself in this camp before, keeping quiet because it’s just easier.  Some believers even go so far as to throw their total support behind worldly ideology, political correctness, tolerance  – whatever you want to call it – and then condemn their fellow believers for being “judgmental,” “close-minded,” or “intolerant.”

While criticism from the world is to be expected, criticism from fellow believers often surprises us!  We are not accustomed to being labeled (or  dare I say “judged”?) by those who should be our support.  How warped is it that Satan has convinced some of us that simply standing on God’s Truth is being judgmental, and is therefore wrong?

Allow me to clarify: the Bible DOES speak strongly against judging others and becoming self-righteous. We are all familiar with the words of Luke 6:41-42.

speck or plank

Only God can see, and therefore judge, the motives of the heart.  Therefore, we should not pre-occupy ourselves with the sin of others; rather we should be too busy dealing with our own sin.  However, God also calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be bold in our witness as transformers.

Unfortunately, well-publicized, so-called “Christians” have recently taken a stand for their so-called “truth” in ways that ARE harsh and hateful, tarnishing our witness.  Furthermore, we have Christian brothers and sisters actively ridiculing others on forums such as Twitter and Facebook, adding to the world’s negative perception of us Christ-followers. While I fully support upholding God’s Truth, when we haughtily shove our beliefs in someone’s face with a sarcastic turn of phrase, a witty cartoon, or a picture that belittles others, we end up conforming to the world and looking just like it!  How can we then be salt or light to a world that is in dire need of God’s truth?

I believe Satan has seized hold of this shame over others’ behavior and used it to confuse believers (as well as the world!) and convince many of us that upholding God’s truth is wrong in and of itself, when the reality is that the fault lies in the method of delivery. We have only to study Christ’s example to see how he gently revealed truth to people, often with a single phrase or sentence, and always while caring for their needs, whether physical or spiritual.  He did not skirt sin issues, neither did he humiliate the lost.

We must follow Christ’s example in our efforts to live as transformers.  When the Bible speaks clearly on issues of right and wrong, we are called to uphold God’s Truth with – and this is the key – LOVE and RESPECT.

prepared to give an answer

The key lies in our delivery – a delivery which requires a balance between Truth and Grace, not the absence of either or both.  A total-grace perspective can lead to conformity, while a total-truth perspective can lead to self-righteous bullying .  Is it wrong to bully others into sharing our beliefs?  Yes!  Is it also wrong to be silent on issues that the Bible clearly addresses?  Yes!  Why then have we allowed the world, the Great Deceiver, and even fellow Christians to tell us that it is un-Christian-like to be a Christian? Ironic, isn’t it? 🙂

My purpose is this: consider carefully how your life and your actions or statements appear to others (especially in regards to social media).  Do they see a difference?  Are you being transformed by Christ, or are you choosing to conform to the world?  There is no middle ground!

power of risen savior

I know it is risky voicing the unpopular Biblical perspective on many current issues, but then Christ wasn’t all that popular with the worldly and falsely religious leaders of his day, either.  You may lose friends.  You may lose popularity.  You may even be judged by the very people who accuse you of “ being too judgmental!” Have the courage that Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:7-11:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Amen??

If at the moment you find that you’ve been conforming (and haven’t we ALL at some point or another??), remember that God’s grace is immediate and His power to provoke change in us is immeasurable.  On the other hand, if you are already actively trying to live out a transformed life, take heart. You are not alone!

I encourage you to look to God’s Word and the Word alone to form your opinions, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.

Questions to ask  before posting or sharing a “truth” statement via social media:

  1. Is your audience one you love and one who loves you in return?  In other words, will your message be received in the manner in which it was intended?
  2. Is your message one of God’s truth rather than man’s truth?  In other words, do you have contextual biblical support  for your message?
  3. Is God leading you to share this truth at this particular time in this particular fashion?  In other words, has the prompting come from Him or do you just love your soap box? 🙂
  4. Have you achieved a balance between truth and grace?  In other words, how is your method of delivery – gentle or smug?

overcome evil for good

Telling the truth in grace and love is such a delicate balance to achieve, but as Christ’s image-bearers, we must work toward that balance!  We have amazing technology and a unique opportunity to show the world what Christ-like love truly is, so let’s allow Christ’s love to shine through us without diminishing the light of His message.  Don’t conform.  Be a transformer.

Because of His love,

Jen 🙂

You might also enjoy this post:

http://www.godspotting.net/2013/06/god-is-not-republican.html

20 Comments »

When Temptation Lingers Near

Today I want to share with something I wrote many months ago.  It was written during a time of discouragement and trials galore.  My husband and I were both under a lot of external stress, both personal and from ministry, and our marriage temporarily suffered.  I felt like one of the Israelites in the desert, bemoaning my situation and feeling helpless to enact change.

When I first wrote it, I was not intending to ever share it anywhere.  The words just sort of poured out in the middle of my frustration and attempt to make sense of the chaos around me.  I often find that writing helps me to communicate with God and understand the wisdom He’s trying to impart.  So, I share it with you today, hoping that it may encourage you if you’re facing a situation that seems impossible or a day, or even a moment, that seems unbearable.  I hope you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone and that He always provides a way out!

temptation, marriage, victory

It’s almost supper time, but the stove top sits empty and no pleasing aromas fragrance the air.  I’ve not even yet decided what to cook, let alone made any sort of preparations.  Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom trying desperately to pray while my preschoolers whine for attention right outside of the bedroom door.  My husband, whom I’ve just argued with, sits just outside the door as well at the dining room table.  He’s grumbling over the budget and seems unaware of the noise around him.  There is no peace, no quiet.

But I NEED to pray because I am one moment away from falling into temptation.  One moment from allowing my impatience, anger, resentment, and frustration to spill over onto my family.  One moment away from blowing any chance at doing right.  At this moment I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Satan has set his sights on me; I’m being tested.

It isn’t the first of such evenings in my home.  In fact, our marriage relationship has been under strain for a few months now, and I’ve grown oh-so-weary of “fighting the good fight.”  However, this past week, God has shown me the truth of my situation; I haven’t been doing my part, either.  I have been selfish.  I have been lazy.  I have been avoiding the time with my Lord that I need.  Thus, I recently resolved to make some positive changes, knowing full well that temptation would linger near.

So as I sit here in my room praying while the chaos rages just outside of the door, I laugh.  Yes, I laugh!  It’s absurd, even comical, that every other person in my home (and there are five) would suddenly become distractions at the very moment I attempt to find peace.  I want to complain to the Lord that I’m trying so hard to do what is right, to seek Him in my moment of weakness, but He’s not making it very easy!

no temptation

In that moment of laughter, I realize the truth that as long as I’m trying to do right, to obey God, Satan is not going to leave me alone.  In fact, He’s even going to use good things like bible study and prayer against me by causing frustration and chaos at just the right moment.  Thankfully, now that God has shown me the truth of the matter, Satan cannot win.  I see his game plan for what it is, and prayer is a powerful tool!  Sorry, Satan, I’m getting up from my throne of self-pity and frustration, and I’m cooking supper tonight!

Lord, I thank you for always providing a way out for us, even when it seems impossible or unbearable!  I ask that you would encourage my sisters in Christ today to look for the way out when they face temptation. Help them to see the truth in whatever situations they face.  Remind them that You are with them always, every step of the way, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Give them the strength they need to resist temptation and to flee the Devil and remind them of your unfailing love and grace for them because of your Son, Jesus Christ.  I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

12 Comments »