Friday, September 21, 2012

The testing of the elasticity of my skin. . .

I went to Victory Baptist Church in St. Mary's to share God's Word with an incredible group of women.  I find myself totally overwhelmed over and over by God's goodness.  I mean, really, can His grace be any more humbling?

It's always interesting to go into different groups and meet so many awesome ladies.  I'm greeted so warmly by them and we do the necessary introductions.  Then, without fail, after we open God's Word and I share what God has given me, a transformation takes place.  As we open our souls to hear from God, something really unique happens.  During that period of time--with our souls exposed--we as a body of women are bound together in a new and special way.  After closing prayers, we beat a path to each other to embrace.  Them to me and me to them.  As a new, united sisterhood of believers, all of our barriers are removed and our hearts are tied together with a pretty bow by God Himself.  I'm floored by it every time.  It causes such emotion to well up in me.  I love them in a completely new way.  We are family now--strangers no more.  Heaven must be much the same way.

I love His Word, I need it.  I love sharing His Word, I have to.  It is fuel for my soul.  I feel as if I could run a marathon and fall in the floor in a pool of tears.  I'm a vessel, emptied out and yet completely filled.  I'm overwhelmed at the work of my Heavenly Father.  Oh my! How I am humbled and privileged to be a part of it.  I cannot contain my praise...else the rocks cry out and my skin bursts.  Oh YES my friends...I praise Him.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Promise, not on my word , but His.

I'm reading a book right now by Francine Rivers.  It's actually a two book series, Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream.  I'm on the second one.  Its always so neat to me how God puts things in front of us as we need them...maybe in the form of a book like this, or a sermon, a song, a friend...the list could go on.  God isn't limited in how He can communicate with us.  We could over think and analyze this--Was it really God?  Did I create that in my own head?  Am I making more of this than it really is?  Is this all just by chance?  But we aren't going to waste time with those questions today.  I've got too much running through the ole brain to psychoanalyze a message...especially when there is so much to be gained from the message.

I have had periods of times in my life where I felt I didn't hear from God at all.  Those times are difficult to say the least.  Again, I don't want to get distracted chasing a rabbit that is off the subject at hand so I'm going to try to avoid that (difficult for a wordy person, like myself!).  I've been hearing messages from God everywhere lately.  In CRAZY places.  As odd as it is, I haven't for one second wondered if it was Him or if I was just tying together random events out of some wacko mind set of my own.  All the messages are on the same theme.  They've come in a variety of ways--even lines in a TV show that I wasn't even watching and I "just happened"  to overhear.  I am thrilled to be out of a season of silence and in a season of information overload.  (PS. God, lets stay in this open-communication season!!) It makes blood pump through my veins with excitement.

So, what's the message being nailed home?  Unfortunately I can't put it all into words right now.  Its as if it is too big to be captured in a sentence or two--even in a novel.  I soak in it, bathe in it, relish it, think on it, love it.  The foundation of my desire in ministry is to leave with you a feeling of overwhelming love and acceptance that my friend and savior Jesus Christ continues to give to me.  Without much elaboration, after a lifetime of living a life that left me empty and lacking--even injured, sometimes by my own actions--He LOVED me when I hated myself.  He didn't come to me and list my mistakes or even remind me of them occasionally.  Nope, He just loved me back to health and He hasn't stopped.  I beg Him to allow me to be used to love you that way too.  Knowing all of that, the messages I've been getting lately, combined with my God given mission, made the passage from the book jump off the page at me.

On that note, as I was reading my book I came across a few lines that I knew right away I had to share here.  The excerpt is in a conversation between two women.  One who has a past of poor decisions and she has been completely redeemed by God.  The other woman is in the midst of her heartache.  She is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, she is an alcoholic who has experimented with multiple drugs, she was homeless for years, her brother was killed, and she has been kicked out of her house because she's pregnant out of wedlock.  She feels judged, condemned, guilty & ashamed.  The two women are sitting on the beach and the woman speaking in the quote below has just told the pregnant girl to go write all her sins on the beach, every single one.  She gets a few things written when a wave comes and washes away her words.  She keeps at the task as the waves continue to come one after another, washing away all she writes.  Finally, she finishes.  The quote below is what is said to her next by the woman Jesus is using to love the young, hurting, pregnant girl.    

"Jesus said He came to save us, not condemn us.  He took our sins upon Himself.  He paid the price to set you free.  God is like the waves, honey.  He washes away your sins.  He offers you the free gift of grace, the added bonus of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and eternal life as well.  You have decisions to make, but the biggest one is what you're going to believe about Him.  Ask Him in, and He'll take care of the rest."

In the end, it isn't what all we've done wrong...its about what He has done for us.  The gift of grace.  It's not a question of worthiness, that would bring your actions back into focus instead of putting the focus where it should be, on Jesus. 

Jesus came to save you, not condemn you.  Ask Him in, and He'll take care of everything else.  Believe Him.  He is able, no matter what's on your list of wrongs.  Promise, not on my word, but His. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Secrets need grace and love.

I've had the opportunity lately to be around some beautiful souls who are dealing very quietly with a variety of struggles.  It hurts me to see that and I feel nearly compelled to nurture them.  I wish we as a society felt more comfortable with living our struggles out loud.  Yet, we who struggle risk harsh judgement and we feel we'd be crazy to share one whisper of our secrets and private battles.  What we are choosing instead is to hurt alone and in seclusion.  Slap that pretty face on.  Grin and bear it.  Hold it all together.  Keep the hurt or shame or pain right behind the teeth of that pretty smile.

Misery.  Played very well, right into the hands of our enemy.  (I do not like him.)  He'd not be any more effective at crippling people if he walked right up in our homes breaking legs and binding bodies. He loves secrets.  He loves hurts.  He loves false fronts.  He loves seclusion.  If you have a secret...and nearly ALL of us do...before you know it, the enemy will have that secret in his hands and beat you with it like it's a baseball bat.

What are we to do?  Air our dirty laundry to everyone?  Breathe a sigh of relief.  That's not necessary.  But you do need to be taking it to God every single second that it rolls through your head.  If you are not sitting it at the feet of God, odds are, the enemy has a hold of it and he is tireless as he beats you down and ties you up.       

Just a few lies the enemy may be telling you about your secret:

  • You should really be ashamed.  
  • People will never understand how you did that.
  • Sure other people do bad things, but not that bad.
  • You've already done it now, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
  • You deserve it!
  • Everyone around you does things they shouldn't, why don't you get to enjoy it too.
  • As long as no one knows, it's okay.
  • You are the only one who stands to be hurt so what does it matter to anyone else?
  • They deserve the way you treat them.
  • Don't be such a bother, no one cares what you feel like.
  • One more time can't hurt.
  • You need to look out for your self, if someone gets hurt, too bad.
  • You are in too deep, there is no turning around now.
  • If you were smarter, nicer, or prettier--they wouldn't have treated you like that.

  • The fact that you are where you are is your own fault.  No need to even try to take this to God!  How many times can He forgive you, pick you up, help you out?  You aren't good enough to even ask for His help.  It's too late.  No way He can love you now.  (LIE.  LIE.  LIE.  Jesus died for you knowing you were a big fat mess without Him.  He did it to show you His love for you. Romans 5:8)    

Whatever situation you find yourself silently dealing can be powerfully destructive.  It can be bigger than you.  It can be huge.  It may look to you like there is no solution and no way out. CANNOT be bigger than God.  You don't have the one problem that is going to be too difficult for Him.  Listen to this little tid-bit...pretty important part here:  Nothing can separate us from the love God has for us.  NOTHING!  (Romans 8:37-39)  His love is pure.  His love is safe.  His love will not fail you. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)  You can trust Him.

Get to it...go tell God your secrets.  Don't wait another single second because telling Him keeps Satan from being able to use them to hurt you more.  Sometimes Satan will convince you to start worrying about that secret again and at that point...remind him that Jesus has all your secrets.  While Jesus has them, they are His to deal with!  You may have to remind Satan frequently at first...but as fast as your mouth can move, you can do it...again and again!

As we live day to day, we have to realize that everyone has junk.  Everyone.  Try really hard to extend some grace to someone today.  If someone chews your head off down to your shoulders, maybe they've had a bad day and could stand a grace pass.  Stay away from assumptions.  Don't jump to conclusions.  You never know what's going on behind closed doors.  Instead, try to ask how people are, then stop and listen to their answer.  Smile at someone.  Pass out some hugs.  Give away some grace passes.  They don't cost you anything and you never know what it might mean to someone else. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grace of Christ

I read the following in a commentary when preparing for a lesson.  It really resonated with me and I've re-read it often.  I wanted to share it here for any others of you who may especially appreciate the grace of Christ.  His grace not only covers our trespasses but also our shortcomings in fully understanding who He is.  This author described it more beautifully than I could have described my own feelings.  You may have to read it more than once to fully soak it in...I did...and do.  Enjoy...

The only God Paul had known was a "task mater who paid strictly for service done".  His idea of God was the seat of his trouble.  With a soul profoundly religious by nature, he yearned for a god whom no lawbook could provide...He never found his sense of worth, dignity & adequacy until he experienced the grace of Christ.  The assurance of the psalmist, "He restoreth my soul" was fulfilled for Paul only in Jesus.  Grace therefore brought health, gladness, courage, & worth-wileness to Paul.  It also brought him into proper mental focus & fellowship with the God he had so misunderstood.  He found that grace, not law, revealed God's real nature.