Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Kerry’s Story

Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we are talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. We are sharing our raw and messy real life stories. But also, more importantly, we are sharing the truths that set us free. We have bathed this series in prayer and ask now that the Father knit our hearts together and strengthen us to slay this giant called “insecurity” in our hearts.

Verdict on Value

 

A wise woman once told me, “You can only promote one reputation at a time; yours or God’s.”

When I strive to be recognized by others, then God looks small to the world (while I appear haughty and desperate). But if I seize every opportunity to spread God’s fame, then I fade into the background and His glorious kindness shines brightly.

It boils down to this. God is the all-powerful, sinless Creator… so His reputation is more important than mine. Yet because He loves and values me unconditionally, Jesus died to pay the price for my redemption. I am valuable to God! Does anybody else’s acceptance really matter?

When I rest in belonging to Him I can throw myself into Kingdom work by promoting God’s reputation. My every decision will be filtered through the question, “Will this action of mine show the world how great God is?”

On the other hand, if I doubt my value to God…then proving my worth through accomplishments, possessions, or my appearance becomes my full-time career. No resources remain for pursuing Christ and sharing Him with others.

Let’s look at two women of the Bible who illustrate these contrasting ideas. Hannah, who promoted God’s reputation instead of her own, and Miriam, who coveted more accolades for herself. {For a refreshing dip into God’s Word, click over to Kerry’s post.}

 

Be sure to catch all of the posts in our Verdict on Value series:

March 27th – Kathy from Free to Fly (Approval)

April 3rd – Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a chance to win her new book, Love Idol!)

April 10th – Kerry from Plenty Place (Reputation)

April 17th – Arabah from Arabah Joy (Shame ~with a free printable)

April 24th – Jen from Being Confident of This (Confidence)

May 1st – Leah from The Point (Insecurity)

May 8th – Wrap up at Arabah Joy’s place

 

 

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An Interview With the Author of Love Idol {and a chance to win!}

Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we are talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. We are sharing our raw and messy real life stories. But also, more importantly, we are sharing the truths that set us free. We have bathed this series in prayer and ask now that the Father knit our hearts together and strengthen us to slay this giant called “insecurity” in our hearts.

Verdict on Value

 

As part of our “Verdict on Value” series, today we have the privilege of interviewing Jennifer Dukes Lee and giving away a copy of her brand new book, Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes

Here is a snippet of the interview, which you can read in it’s entirety here. Here’s Jennifer:

“Approval is a powerful force in our world. We want to be loved, and liked, and known and validated. And sometimes, we want all that from people – more than we want it from God.

I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy since I was a child – even though I was a perfectionist child with the As to prove it. I had always hoped that my good performances would fill the desire for significance and value. I wanted the approval of parents, peers, and pastors – of everyone.

Retraining my heart would take years. But I knew it was worth the fight – not only for me, but for our daughters. Children are mirrors, reflecting what they see in us. I’ll never forget one Thanksgiving several years ago. I found one of the girls crying in the corner of a bedroom. She had drawn a self-portrait and labeled the parts: “Boring brown hair. Stupid glasses. Dumb freckles. Bad teeth.” She had scrawled across the top of the paper: UGLY.

So many of us – as girls – feel like we’re never enough. And we grow up into women who feel the same way.

I sat on the floor next to my daughter that afternoon and held her for a long time. I vowed that I would provide a firm foundation for my girls to know that a woman’s identity is found in Christ alone. But I would need to live that truth out. I would need to model my Christ-identity.

My girls and I started saying these words out loud: “We’ve had enough of the not-enoughs.”

I started journaling my experiences, writing on my blog, and speaking about the issue of approval. On paper, I could see how my life had become a long journey of seeking approval in the classroom, the corporate cubicle, and my own family tree. After talking with women across the country, I’ve learned that my journey is every woman’s journey – even though the details of our stories differ.”

Click here to read the entire interview and a chance to win Jennifer’s just released book!

 

 

Be sure to catch all of the posts in our Verdict on Value series:

March 27th – Kathy from Free to Fly (Approval)

April 3rd – Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a chance to win her new book, Love Idol!)

April 10th – Kerry from Plenty Place (Reputation)

April 17th – Arabah from Arabah Joy (Shame ~with a free printable)

April 24th – Jen from Being Confident of This (Confidence)

May 1st – Leah from The Point (Insecurity)

May 8th – Wrap up at Arabah Joy’s place

 

 

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Kathy’s Story

Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we are talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. We are sharing our raw and messy real life stories. But also, more importantly, we are sharing the truths that set us free. We have bathed this series in prayer and ask now that the Father knit our hearts together and strengthen us to slay this giant called “insecurity” in our hearts.

Verdict on Value

 

Starting the day with weariness, I was on my way into the church parking lot when the thought crossed my mind: “life is war.” And then, “if we for a moment put our sword down and pretend like it isn’t, we begin to lose ground.”

There are times we feel like we can’t win and want to just ‘get out’ of the fight.

I’m not talking about the wars we hear of on the daily news, the battles our soldiers fight on land with guns and tanks . . .

I’m talking about our personal wars. Life’s daily struggles.

We fight to maintain schedules, to make deadlines, to control our eating, to get to the gym, to give when we’d rather hoard, to be kind when we are under pressure, to cook and serve another meal, the list goes on and on.

But here is what I think is the crux of it all: The core battle is the one fought in our souls for our identity. I’ve written about the soul-hole, how we are born with a cavern that needs to be filled with love and only God’s perfect love can complete us.

Though we know that, we don’t always live it. Often, I think it is because we don’t know how to fight. We think we have to fight for validation, but we already have it. Christ who came to redeem us from the curse of broken identity has already validated us. We don’t fight for victory, we fight from it.

His cross proclaims, “It is finished.” {Your search for value ends HERE!} “I passionately love you!!!”

In this series we want to explore how to walk in victory, to teach what we have learned and to learn from one another. The battle won’t cease until we are done with this life and completely free from our old skin. But we have been given what we need to stay the course while we are here.

Click here to finish reading Kathy’s story

 

 

Be sure to catch all of the posts in our Verdict on Value series:

March 27th – Kathy from Free to Fly (Approval)

April 3rd – Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a chance to win her new book, Love Idol!)

April 10th – Kerry from Plenty Place (Reputation)

April 17th – Arabah from Arabah Joy (Shame ~with a free printable)

April 24th – Jen from Being Confident of This (Confidence)

May 1st – Leah from The Point (Insecurity)

May 8th – Wrap up at Arabah Joy’s place

 

 

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The Verdict on Your Value Series

Today I’m sharing wise words from my friend Arabah Joy about our value.

Verdict on Value

Noise. Our lives are surrounded by it.

It bombards from within and without and much of our daily noise serves one purpose: to tell us how we are measuring up. It tells us what we are… or aren’t. It tells us we are worthy, successful, valuable, up to par… or we, simply, are not. It tells us we can take it easy on ourselves… or we need to try harder, do more, drive ourselves further.

It should be no surprise to us that the enemy of our souls is alive and well in the noise, tempting us to such things as:

Comparisons

Pride

Insecurity

Intimidation

Inferiority

Selfish Ambition

Shame

Silence

As tempting and overpowering as these things may seem, we need not give place to them in our hearts. God’s Word tells us that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We can face the noise of our lives well equipped for triumph, grace, and confidence.

I am pleased to be part of a brand new series entitled “The Verdict on Value.” This series is about standing in confidence in a dog-eat-dog world and is brought to you by a group of blogging friends who have seen firsthand the damage comparison, insecurity, shame, and the like can do. Throughout this series we are going to share our stories and temptations with insecurity… and how Christ has worked in our lives to free us.

We invite you to join us every Thursday for the next 7 weeks for this series. We have some fun surprises planned as well 🙂 Just be sure to tune in to this blog each Thursday! Here’s a sneak peak into the series and the bloggers I have the privilege of working with on this:

Kathy from Free to Fly

Leah from The Point (Ministry Insecurity)

Jen from Confident in Grace

Arabah from Arabah Joy (Confessions from a Shameful Woman ~with a free mini Bible study printable)

Kerry from Plenty Place

Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a book giveaway of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes!)

Wrap up with Jennifer Dukes Lee

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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.

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Counting Bedtime Blessings

Bedtime Blessings, counting blessings, motherhood, love

It’s past midnight now, yet I sit sleepy-eyed in the too quiet house.  Our four children are all tucked safely into bed and my husband snores beside me.  An extra chill hangs in the air as temperatures outdoor have dipped below zero once again.

I should have gone to bed long ago, but the quiet is so peaceful and I’m feeling so thankful.  Not for any one thing in particular, really, but for many small things all at once that pile up to one pretty spectacular life that I just don’t deserve.

And it’s because of Him, our Creator God, that I am gifted with this one life, this one year, this one day never to be repeated again.

So, I’m thankful because in the midst of trial, I’m finally seeing some of the good.  I don’t always see it, don’t always “count it joy,” but today I can see the progress.

Today I realized that this time of trial has greatly strengthened our marriage.  I’m able to  appreciate my husband in ways that I haven’t been able to before.  He’s been my comfort in times of need and my encourager in times of weakness.  We’ve regained that sense of companionship that so easily gets lost in the daily urgency of parenthood and of ministry. I’m counting that a victory!

Even more, after finishing only part of the laundry and part of the coupon clipping, I felt free to stop and just “be” with them, those fabulous  kids who amaze me with their zest for life and their love for others.  And again I’m thankful because I don’t always take the time to stop and read books or play legos or look at drawings or dance. I can’t always resist the desire for domestic perfection, but I’m never sorry when I do.  Another victory I’m claiming!

And I, I walk away the richer for it.  I fall even more in love with these creatures the Lord has entrusted to us.

bedtime blessings, counting blessings, love, family

I notice the way my daughter’s bedtime hugs and kisses always come with compliments like beautifulest or sweetest or nicest or bestest.  And when I pay her a compliment in return, her face fairly glows with joy.  She’s my enthusiastic encourager.

I notice, too, the way our youngest son really hugs me back, both small arms around my neck and a nice squeeze (but not too hard), maybe even a few pats on the back.  He lingers there, not old enough to be embarrassed yet by sitting in Mommy’s lap.   He’s my sweet snuggler.

I can’t leave out our middle son, our macho man, who seems unusually happy and eager to please this evening (bedtime is normally met with his frowns).  In fact, he asks me to stop reading before his bedtime story is finished so that he will have time to pick up his blankets from the floor (shocking!), the leftovers of a massive tent-fort built on this unexpected snow day.  It delighted me because…he’s my energetic entertainer.

The only one left is our oldest son, quick to help, slow to anger.  His shoulders seem to grow broader by the day as his voice deepens.   He’s developing a hunger and thirst for the Lord that thrills this mama’s heart.  He’s my gentle leader of the pack. 🙂

What really struck me this evening, though, was the sense of peace that pervaded the air here.  The transformation that love in action has on our children is profound.  When they know that in this moment right here, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are incredibly loved, that they are valued for who they are, then they blossom right before my eyes.

No tears at bedtime, no scowling, no stalling…

I can see it on their smiling faces, that in just a few lovely hours, they’ve been filled to the brim so much so that it just overflows in return – love and joy and peace.

bedtime blessings, great love, God loves us, children of God

Suddenly, I realize that it’s no different for me.  How much easier it is for me to obey my Heavenly Father when I’ve taken time to revel in His love for me, His perfect, unfailing, unconditional love for me.  Not for everyone else, but for me.

How quick I am to chose right instead of wrong.

How strong I stand in the face of temptation.

How peaceful I feel.

And in me, the joy is unspeakable because it’s true.  My Father God loves me. He’s patient with me.  He comforts me.  He rejoices in me.  He blesses me with an abundance of good things.

And even on the tough days, when I act like an ungrateful child, He waits for me.  And when I sink to the ground in absolute despair, He sits beside me.  And when I’m ready to press on, He helps me stand.

Isn’t it the same for all of us, sisters?  If we could just live every day with this soul-deep thankfulness for who He is and for who we are because of Him, then being the women of faith we should be, the ones we really long to be, wouldn’t be half as hard!

Instead, the work-in-progress would come easy to us.  The victories frequent rather than few and far between.   It would spill right over the edges of our very selves and stream out to everyone around us, this supernatural love.

All of those good things that we cannot manufacture on our own?  They begin with Him, through Him, from Him.

Because He is good and His love endures forever.

We can be confident in that Love, sisters, for it tells us who we are.

It brings us victory!

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these places.

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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.

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Children

Child of the King

It’s one of those days when I feel so plain.

A tad, well, ordinary.

And I know, I know, I know the truth.  That I am.  Ordinary.

Except I’m not.  To Him, I’m not.

Why is it such a struggle to be okay with the ordinary when surrendering to that makes us so completely extraordinary?  Why do I look for the praise of man, the love of others, when I know the unfailing love of the King and the pride of Big Brother Jesus?

It’s like this fever within us, the desire to be more.  More than ordinary.  And it creeps up when we least expect it, even when we’re in the midst of reveling in the extraordinary that He reveals to us.

At first, it’s just a quiet whisper.

We shove it aside, hoping it will go away on its own.  But it doesn’t.  It grows stronger still, this whisper that we are ordinary, plain, nothing special.  And gaining strength, the whisper goes even deeper. You are weak. Your faith is weak. You are worthless.

With a groan, we turn to it, not wanting the whisper to be true, but fearing all the while that it is.   Why do we turn to it before turning away, my sisters?

Why do we listen to that whisperer, the Father of Lies?

Why don’t we turn instead to that Voice of Truth?

The Voice that calls us Beloved, Chosen, My People, Redeemed Saints,

Vessels, Lights in a dark world,

Worthy of a one and only Son, Brides of Christ.

Is there anything ordinary about being a bride?  I think those of us who are married would say it’s the day in our lives when we felt most special, most beautiful, most beloved.

There is nothing ordinary about bearing the names He gives us!

Be still, whispers.

Roar aloud, Voice of Truth!

Because Satan is defeated.  And we…we are new creations.  He no longer has dominion over us.

So, be gone foul whisperer!

We.

Are.

Children.

Of the One True King.

Ordinary people, extraordinary children.

We can be confident of that.

1 Peter 2:9

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,

so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”

Jen 🙂

It’s Five Minute Friday, and I’m linking up with Lisa Jo again.  You can join in, too!  Five minutes of raw, uneditted, stress-free writing on a word prompt she gives us.

I might also be linking this post up with any of these lovely blogs.

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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.

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Undesired Sacrifices

Imagine waking up every morning to trudge out to your backyard, sleep still in your eyes, and build a fire to offer a burnt sacrifice on a stone altar placed there.  You head back out again later in the day when you choose self over others, and again when you have that unkind thought about your friend, and again when you snap at your husband or child.  In and out of the house all day long, offering sacrifices for sins committed.

I’m sure if I actually offered a sacrifice in my backyard, my neighbors would think I was crazy!  My family would think I was crazy!  We no longer offer burnt sacrifices like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, …or do we?

During my devotional time earlier this week, I read in Hebrews 10 about the futility of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

Hebrews 10:11

    Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices,

which can never take away sins;

“Daily,” the priests stood at their posts; “time after time” they offered sacrifices for the “same” sins, over and over and over.  Such repetition calls attention to the futility of their tasks.

As a mom, I have a lot of sympathy for such a job!  We do laundry and dishes and cook and play, and then we wake up the next morning to do all of those jobs all over again.  Sometimes those daily jobs feel endless.  Sometimes if we focus on the futility of those tasks that are continually being undone, we grow weary.  I imagine that the priests grew weary as well, offering temporary atonement for sin, day after day after day.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains that at the time the letter to the Hebrews was written, the temple had not yet been destroyed.  Thus, Jewish practices of offering atonement for sin on the altars continued to take place daily.  But for those who believed in Christ, such offerings should have been rendered meaningless.  In the first place, such sacrifices only served as temporary substitutes at best.  In the second place, once Christ fulfilled prophecy by offering Himself as the final sacrifice, no further sacrifices were needed.  The work He accomplished on the cross completely and permanently fulfilled the Old Testament Law.

So, why were these Jewish Christians still trudging back and forth to the altar of sacrifice, so to speak?  They were not fully trusting in the blood of Christ as payment for their sins.  They knew of the gospel, the good news that abolished the old system and established a new covenant built on the cornerstone of Grace, but they struggled to let go of their old ways.

At first glance, I’m tempted to think, how silly of them – they’re doing so much work and it’s all meaningless!  I’d like to believe that I would never continue to offer sacrifices – it would be pointless, after all.  But the Lord has been opening my eyes to an alarming truth: I sometimes offer my own daily sacrifices, often without even realizing it. 

Think about it. This is what we like to do. We wake up in the morning thinking we’ll do His work today.  We’ll be the best mom, wife, aunt, sister, friend, child, Christian we can be.  We even have this list in mind. Devotions – check.  Prayer  – check.  Serve others –check.  Play with children – check.  Be a good steward of our home – check.  And we offer these things up to Him as our very sacrifices.

Okay, Lord, I’ve accomplished all of those things on the list.  Here ya go.  Are we good now?  I can go about the rest of my day as I please, right?  You’re pleased with me, right? I pile the sacrifices of good behavior up in a nice neat pile on my altar, thinking I’m all good to go.

Except I’m not.  Because while I was busy trying to check those things off of my good-Christian-girl list, I was withholding my very self, and I didn’t even realize it.  In a Screwtape Letters sort of reversal, Satan has me buying into a system of works all over again!

Look at what Jesus says about such sacrifices in Hebrews 10:5-7:

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
But a body You have prepared for Me;
In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
(In the scroll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Your will, O God.’”

These verses are a repetition of an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah.  In effect, Jesus says that God the Father takes no pleasure in burnt offerings.  Instead Jesus offers something else – His very being.  He offers only to do the will of the Lord.

The same is true of us, co-heirs with Christ.  The Father doesn’t desire my sacrifices in the first place.  He desires my heart, my very being.  He desires I should abide in Him, moment by moment, fully surrendered  to His will, not out of guilt or an attempt to somehow earn His approval, but out of love for Him.  What the Lord desires is so much less about doing than we like to make it, and so much more about being than we like to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, sisters in Christ.  We should be loving others, choosing joy, offering praise, living in the Spirit. But if any of those good things are done out of a sense of obligation, duty, or an attempt to earn His favor, then they are pointless.  We might as well build an altar in our backyards and start burning animals on it.

The truth is that we who are in Christ already have the Lord’s favor.  We already stand in Grace. That work was finished at the Cross.  All He requires of us, is US.

So, if we’re laying all of these “good things” down at His feet while failing to truly surrender our very selves to Him, then He is not pleased.  If we become consumed with doing, doing, doing to the point of neglecting just being with Him, then we’ve missed the point entirely.

And for some of us, myself included, this being rather than doing is a difficult doctrine to accept because we are natural-born doers.  But we cannot offer doing on that sacrificial altar at the expense of being.

Consider this: if I fail to check off a single item on my spiritual to-do list, but I’ve sat at the Father’s feet with a willing spirit, then I have given Him what He desires.  Self.  Control.  Being.

Yet what about Paul’s call to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices?  Here’s the problem.  We humans get it backwards! We try to live right in order to make ourselves acceptable.  Even those of us who are in Christ and who understand Grace might catch ourselves living in this way – making meaningless sacrifice after sacrifice, knowing that Christ’s death alone was enough yet still striving in our hearts to “earn” favor.

being vs. doing 2

The real equation for right living comes by first understanding and accepting that there is absolutely nothing we can do ourselves, that it’s all about Him and the life He gave.  Once we begin to live in that place of grace and embrace being in relationship with Him, then those good works naturally overflow from us as a result of being in the presence of the Father himself!

Doing never leads to being; being always leads to doing.

Just look at Jesus’ example given to us here in Hebrews.  He pleased the Father by simply offering Himself, his very being, up to the Father’s will.  And out of that offering came the greatest sacrifice known to mankind for all eternity, the sacrifice to end all others.

So, ask yourself.  What am I offering up to the Lord today?  Am I offering meaningless sacrifices in an attempt to please Him so that I can go about doing what I really want to do?  Am I focused constantly on doing and not on being?  Am I weary with the futility of it all, trudging back and forth to the altar in the backyard?

If you find yourself weary with all of the doing, the Lord has good news for you today,  stop.

Just stop.

This section of scripture in Hebrews concludes with the following words:

“And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.
Now where there is forgiveness of these things,

there is no longer any offering for sin.”

Hebrews 10:17-18

He desires not our meaningless sacrifices.  He desires instead that we would just be with Him.  Find rest in the being first and let your doing naturally overflow from His work in you.

being vs. doing 1

What the Father desires most then is really very simple and has little to do with how we mother, how we serve at church, how clean our houses are or how happy we make our husbands.

What He desires is you.

Simply  you.

What a sweet relief to realize that our falling down at His feet in surrender is enough!

Father, help us to let go of the doing and embrace instead the being. Remind us that if we abide in You, the doing naturally overflows.   Help us to rest in the grip of Grace, for Your Son was and is enough.  The debt is paid once and for all.  Now we are set free. 

Set free to just be.

Amen.

Jen 🙂

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

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