Dusting off Dreams

My kids have big dreams, dreams that are bigger than life itself.  For instance, over the last several months my daughter has been building a "rocket ship" in our living room out of cardboard boxes.  For Christmas, my kids got an upgrade to a 5 foot long rocket ship.  Below is a video of my kids preparing to launch off to space.




Their dreams have expanded my horizons and have taught me child-like faith.  There is something about "getting older" that allows the practicality of life and the limits life offers to begin to bury those youthful dreams we once had.

My daughter has another dream and her dream has inspired me to dust off some of my own dreams.  When she was 4 1/2 years old she took paper, scissor, tape and a pencil and made a little book.  She couldn't read or write at this point in time but she drew pictures.  The book ended up having a story line of a princess captured by a witch and saved by a hero.  It was very cute and I was amazed at her creativity.  The hero of the story, Tot began to take shape and form.

Tot was not a one time incidence.  She began creating more and more books.  However, her creations  much like her personality, were spread all over the place.  I began to help her "organize" her little books.  Last time we organized, Tot was up to 11 "books."  I began to realize that this was a significant moment in her little life and I made sure it was kept together and not thrown away which is what I like to do when there are too many papers (remember practicality).  I still did not understand or realize the depths of her dreams.

One night, she and I were driving alone in the car.  In the backseat, her little voice spoke up,

"Tot will be in the library when I'm 26 years old." 

"What?" I asked.

"Tot will be in the library when I'm 26 years old.  I'll have to probably have other jobs until then, but he will be in the library when I'm 26."

I was astounded at the depths and the practicality of her dreams.  In her young mind, she was going to have her books published when she is 26 and she understood that it will take time, effort, and perhaps pursuing other things in the process.  After our recent trip to Disney World, she added another element to her dream.  She announced that Tot's wife, Micah would be the next Disney princess and Tot would be the next prince.  (So you heard it here first!)

Wow! I began to pray to the Lord after all this.  How in the world do you harness the depths of these dreams to keep them alive, so that she can accomplish some of her dreams?  And then the Lord began to quietly remind me of some of my own dreams.  You see in my younger years I used to dream, too.  Every New Year, I would journal and write out what I hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year.  As we know, the practicality of life gets in the way and those dreams get dusty.  Now that I'm older and "wiser" I no longer keep up with this tradition of writing down dreams that will never happen, what's the point?

The point, I've been learning, is that it is okay to fail and that failure is often a road to reality.  So after seeing the dreams of my kids, the Lord has challenged me to dust off one my forgotten dreams.  One of the ways I can help my daughter achieve her dreams is to show her that it is okay to try, fail and then try again.  Maybe every dream won't reach reality, but as the video above showed, it is sure fun to dream.

So yes, for this New Year, I'm dusting off some old dreams.  I am returning to the wonderment of childhood and realizing through the eyes of my daughter that you can have huge dreams and be practical at the same time.

Where are the dreamers?
Where have they gone?
They are the melody to life's song.

In Christ,

Book Review: Healing is a Choice

I decided to review the book Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn after attending the incredible Women of Faith Conference.  At the conference, they emphasized being healthy spiritually and that we do have choices in how we feel and act each day.  They said if you were having trouble in this area to seek help.  I thought this book would be a perfect follow up to the conference.


Eight years ago, I read Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and then proceeded to read the rest of his works.  Going through his books helped me to sort through a lot of stuff and find a lot of freedom in different areas.  The last couple of years though I haven't really focused on "healing" per se and I began to see the residual effects in my life.  Issues began creeping up slowly, that were just annoying at first but started turning into bad habits.  I've learned that when things continue and I'm not able to stop them, through prayer alone that there is usually something else going on.  I've learned that it is worth finding out what the roots are and attacking them.  After attending the conference, I decided to attack these things head on.  So onto the book review:

Healing is a Choice is slightly intimidating when you receive it because it is 454 pages long!  Why is it so long?  Because it is the book and a full workbook combined.  The book discusses 10 decisions that will transform your life and 10 lies that can prevent you from making them.  The book is actually a fairly quick and easy read.  It is the workbook part that is full and intense.

The author is divorced after a 20 plus year marriage.  He uses much of the book to discuss the process of healing he went through after his divorce.  I personally struggled with how he chose to talk about his ex-wife and his former marriage.  His examples ended up being a hurdle I had to overcome to get to the truths of the book.  However, what I really found beneficial was the workbook portion of the book.  It is excellent and it is filled with Scripture and lots of good questions to ask.  It provided a good quiet time for me to talk to the Lord about some things!  I personally found the workbook  portion to be helpful and healing and it did provide what I was looking for, a format to deal with some of these issues.

Here are a couple of other thoughts about the book.  He mentions the possibility of using the book in small groups.  After leading small groups for the last 7 years, I would say this would not be a good idea.  The book is pretty intense, and depending on people's pasts could bring up some very deep issues.  When I lead a group SAFETY is my number one concern and it takes time to establish that. The group would have to be safe and the leader would have to equipped to handle the issues brought up.  Finally, if you can't afford counseling with a professional, the workbook portion might be a cost-effective way for you to get help.

Walking healed and whole is a choice.  Often times Christians walk around broken inside but "happy" on the outside.  After years of being around Christianity, I've watched these "happy" Christians crumble.  I've determined in my heart that this is not going to be my story.  What I've learned is that God just doesn't want us to look "good on the outside" but He truly cares about our hearts.  He wants to bring healing to our hearts and sometimes that involves looking at the past and letting God bring truth to the pains of the past.  Don't be afraid to grab God's hand and walk into the past with Him.

In Christ,



PS I received this book free of charge from Booksneeze.  All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Cranky Christmas Love

I checked my e-mail when I woke up this morning and found that an order I had placed last week was canceled because the items were no longer in stock.  I then had to hop on the phone and after 25 minutes of placing a new order was told they were not going to give me some of the "cash" they owed me because the coupon had expired.  I explained it was not my fault because they had canceled the order I had placed while the coupon was active.  By this time frustration had begun to mount inside me - it is early morning, the person on the other end of the line barely speaks English, this is not what I wanted to do with my morning I wanted to blog and spend time with God, it was only $3.60 but it is the principle of the thing - all these thoughts added together and resulted in crankiness towards the person on the other side of the phone.

While I was on hold waiting to speak to a manager, the Holy Spirit was quietly conversing with me.  He reminded me that even while I was on the phone I was spending time with Him and He also reminded me of some of the things I read in The Greatest Thing in the World, things about the development of character.   God works and moves in the dailyness of life and not just when I am in "worship and quiet time" with Him:

Why should God have provided
that so many hours of every
day should be occupied with work? 
It is because work makes men. 

 Character is the music of the soul, and is developed by exercise. 

Active use of the power entrusted
to us is one of the chief
means which God employs
for producing the Christian graces.

In the end, it all worked out, I got my $3.60 back, and I didn't even have to talk to the manager about it. But through it all, I was also reminded of the opportunities God has given me to show His love to other people and not be so American about my rights to good service but to care more about the person serving me and remembering that they have 8 hours to work with cranky housewives who are trying to share the "Christmas spirit" by purchasing items on-line.  Perhaps, I can and should pause and spread the fragrance of Christ through love by being patient, kind and understanding...

Do we carry about with us the thought of
God wherever we go?  If not,
we have missed the greatest part of life.

I realized that being on the phone wasn't just a waste of time (which is what I thought) but rather a chance to feel God's refining fire at work in my heart, teaching me how to love when it was the very last thing I wanted to do.  So once again I am reminded, challenged, encouraged that "in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)."

Which end of the continuum do I want those that interact with me to associate with Christmas - crankiness or love? 


In Christ,


PS The quotes in italics are from The Greatest Thing in the World.

Love: The Greatest Thing in the World

This morning I opened my Google reader and enjoyed a post by Carolyn Weber entitled Christmas Gifting: Commercialism or Commission? The Giving of Grace.  Reading that post lead me on the adventure of starting to read a book called The Greatest Thing in the World.  That book is available online for free.  All I can say is that for me it is a timely blessing of God's truth.  I have been enjoying sitting and reading about 1 Corinthians description of Love and letting the Truth of it seep and soak in and through my life.  If you have a few moments follow my links by starting at Carolyn's website and moving from there to the free e-book.  You will be blessed.

Here are a few teasers from the book in case you need a little motivation:

I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good thing, therefore,
that I can do, or any kindness that I can show
to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer it or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.

Souls are made sweet not by taking the acid fluids out, but by
putting something in -- a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies,
transforms all.  This only can eradicate what is wrong, work a chemical change,
renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man.  Will-power does not change men. 
Time does not change men.
Christ does.

Goethe's words: "Talent develops itself in solitude - the talent of prayer,
of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; character grows in the
stream of world's life.  That chiefly is where men are to learn love.

So I have not made my way to the end, but I was enjoying myself so much along the way that I had to share.  I pray you have a few moments to jump into these readings and will be blessed.

In Christ,

A Refreshing look at Isaiah 55

I'm on vacation so here is a recycled post. It is a good reminder:)!
Isaiah 55 contains a variety of verses that probably are very familiar to you.  These verses are usually discussed and remembered in small, separate sections.  While, the individual verses are beautiful and contain beautiful truths when viewed alone, a reading of them side by side reveals God's love in a way that is overwhelmingly beautiful. 
Here is the entirety of Isaiah 55:
The Lord says, "All you who are thirsty,
come and drink.
Those of you who do not have money,
come, buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn't really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.

3 Come to me and listen;
listen to me so you may live.
I will make an agreement with you that will last forever.
I will give you the blessings I promised to David.
4 I made David a witness of my power for all nations,
a ruler and commander of many nations.

5 You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you."

6 So you should look for the Lord before it is too late;
you should call to him while he is near.
7 The wicked should stop doing wrong,
and they should stop their evil thoughts.
They should return to the Lord so he may have mercy on them.
They should come to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

8 The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 Rain and snow fall from the sky
and don't return without watering the ground.
They cause the plants to sprout and grow,
making seeds for the farmer
and bread for the people.
11 The same thing is true of the words I speak.
They will not return to me empty.

They make the things happen that I want to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.

12 "So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands.
13 Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were.
Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were.
These things will be a reminder of the Lord's promise,
and this reminder will never be destroyed.

This entire passage of Scripture is about Jesus Christ and the amazing beauty and freedom of His love!  That He offers us life, for free, all we have to do is COME!  Throughout this passage, God continually invites us to COME to Him and listen to Him.  The things He is offering to us as a result of coming to Him are good for us, rich and satisfying!

Sandwhiched throughout this chapter are additonal verses that we as believers today can take as encouragements to what God is doing and wants to do:

You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you.

Beloved, the nations should be running to us!  Let us in confidence, call forth to the nations because God will set them free!

In the middle of this chapter, are the verses: "my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways".  When viewed by themselves, these verses can cause people to be afraid of coming to the Lord in their need, because they think He is saying, "don't question me and you won't understand why such and such has happened."  However, if you view these verses in context, you will see that is a misunderstanding.  God says, "They should come to the Lord, because He will freely forgive them." The point of these verses is that we can come to God and He will freely forgive us.  This incredible idea was, is and always will be GOD's IDEA not our idea.  
So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

Are joy and peace what is leading you in your walk with God right now?  If not, God says they can lead you.  We can't force it, but what I am learning, is that one of the main reasons why I don't experience what God has to offer is because I often have a misunderstanding about His truth and how He operates.  That misunderstanding causes a barrier in my ability to walk in His truth.  When I sit at His beautiful feet and allow His love to change the lie(s) I've been living under, I then begin to live out the freedom He is offering.

Finally, the beauty of the Truth contained in these verses has the ability to bring powerful changes.  "Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were. Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were." Our God is a God of redemption and change.  When He replaces things in our lives He doesn't just bring an equal change, He brings a change that far exceeds the junk that was there before.  So give Him full access, it is worth it!
The reason Isaiah 55 is so beautiful is because it is the GOOD NEWS in God's own words!  Our all-powerful God is wanting to set the nations free and offer His forgiveness without reserve.  We have a message of freedom, life and redemption!  Let's walk in it.

In Christ,

Psalm 103

As I've talked to young moms over the years, they've often shared the common concern that they have a hard time squeezing in quiet times.  Being in this season myself, I understand the struggle.  I've learned, however, that I am a much happier Mom and wife when I do find the time to sit before the Lord.

One of the residuals I've carried from reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's works is the value of the Psalms.  Bonhoeffer encouraged believers to read one Psalm a day as a prayer.  In Visible Fellowship, took it one step further and encouraged believers to stop and pause three times a day in prayer and reflection.  While I haven't squeezed in three times a day, I have begun to occasionally pause in the afternoon to read/pray a Psalm.  It has been a wonderful mid-afternoon reminder and refresher to my day.  I've been revolving around only one Psalm for the last month.  It is so rich and full that it has provided a wonderful diving board into prayer and meditation.  Below is Psalm 103 in the Amplified version.  I will share some of my thoughts throughout.

1BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!

I love the Amplified's explanation of the word bless, to be honest throughout the years I've had no idea how to "bless the Lord" so the words in the parentheses have helped guide me into blessing Him.

All that is "deepest" within me.  There are places, thoughts, ideas in my heart that I've wanted to hide from the Lord.  This Psalm has encouraged me to "bless" Him from every place.  During my quiet prayers I'm learning to praise Him with all areas.
2Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits-

I love the idea "to forget not one of all His benefits."  Again, in my daily prayers through this Psalm it has been fun to pause and reflect on a singular benefit of loving the Lord.  There are so many, thus another reason why I've been able to sit so long in this Psalm.

3Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,

This particular line is a wonderful reminder of the truth of the gospel and the beauty of what Jesus' death and resurrection purchased for us.

4Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;

I once wrote a post called Spiritual Wardrobe, which lists some of the clothes God offers to dress us with.  I didn't include this one.  I absolutely love the imagery in it - beautifies, dignifies and crowns - to have His loving-kindness and tender mercy on top of your head flowing down!!!

5Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle's [strong, overcoming, soaring]!

I again love the Amp here, because it shows the personalization of our great God; that He satisfies us right where we are at, so that we can be strengthened and renewed!

6The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed.

This is a beautiful reminder again of the beauty, power and strength of our God!  He is a champion for those who are oppressed.

7He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

The Bible says God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  What a beautiful reminder that God did show His ways to Moses and He continues to make Himself and His ways known to us.

8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.
9He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge.
10He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

This is a Psalm, so at the time of the writing David was being prophetic.  We have the great blessing of being full recipients of the truths David was prophesying about.  We are now in the place where God's anger is no longer against us and we get to live lives of freedom because our sin is not being held against us!  Also, do you see that God is pleanteous in His mercy and loving-kindness.  He is not going to run out!

11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.
12As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

What a beautiful reminder for us today!  If you have fears about the depths of God's love for you, or the power of Jesus' death had to pay for your sins, you only have to sit and visualize the truths found here!  Your sins have been removed!

13As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].
14For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.

I love the imagery that the frailty of our lives is imprinted on His heart.

15As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more.
17But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children's children--

18To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts].

As many of us know all to well, this life we live is so brief, but what a beautiful and precious reminder of the weight of who God is for all eternity.  For me personally, it is a precious reminder that His love will never fade away and that He has promised to carry the message and benefit of His love to my children and my grandchildren.

19The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.
20Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word.

The end brings us back to the beginning.  If you didn't have a reason to bless the Lord at the start, you have numerous reasons to now!

21Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, all you His hosts, you His ministers who do His pleasure.

I love this - you who do His pleasure.  As children of God, we have the opportunity to carry on the message contained in the Psalm of His love, mercy and grace to those around us!

22Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion; bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul!

Amen!

Oh! I've got goosebumps.  I just love this Psalm. By the time I'm done reading it,  I always want to start this Psalm over again.  For me, it wraps up the beauty of our salvation into one prayer!  It has been a great way for me to stay immersed in His Truth throughout my day!

So here it is one more time, without my interruptions:

1BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!

2Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits--

3Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,

4Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;

5Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle's [strong, overcoming, soaring]!

6The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed.

7He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.

9He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge.

10He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

12As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].

14For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.

15As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more.

17But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children's children--

18To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts].

19The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.

20Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word.

21Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, all you His hosts, you His ministers who do His pleasure.

22Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion; bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul!

In Christ,



























Have you found something worth dying for?

My husband and I were listening to a sermon the other day by Todd Hunter and he was talking about how polls show that the majority of Americans claim they are Christians, however many "lifestyles" do not reflect this as true.  He then made the statement, "Many people have found something to live for, but have you found something worth dying for?"  Todd Hunter stated how people are willing to invite Christian morals into their lives, but they often are not willing to die to themselves to follow Christ.

What is Jesus' Call?

As we look at the call of Christ and throughout Christian history we can see that death, both spiritual and at times physical is a part of following the Lord.  Below are several examples of individuals whose understanding of who Jesus Christ is, was something worth physically dying for:

  • When Jesus presented Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus, He also presented Paul with the kind of life he would soon be living:
    • Acts 9:16, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
      • When Paul accepted the invitation to follow Jesus as Lord of His life, Paul understood what he was getting himself into.  His understanding of Jesus Christ convinced Paul that Jesus was someone worth dying for. 
  • In John 21:18, Jesus informs Peter of the cost following Jesus would entail:
    • "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, chose to return to Germany, knowing very well that his decision could lead to his death, and he ended up walking to his death saying, "This is the end - for me the beginning of life."
But as we also see in John 21 (which Erwin McManus discusses in Unleashed), not every follower's life, will lead to a physical martyrdom:

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved
was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against
 Jesus at the supper and had said,
“Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 
 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return,
what is that to you?
You must follow me.”

Because of the country we currently live in, our faith rarely requires us to give up our physical life for the sake of Christ.  However, if we hear the words of Jesus, His invitation to us still requires a death:

Luke 9:23
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross daily
and follow me.

Have you encountered Jesus in such a way that you are willing to die to follow Him?

How Deep is the Love of Christ?

God has been opening my eyes to the depths of His love for others. He has been showing me that if we as His people, want to meet people in their depths then we need to be willing to go to the depths to meet them there.  Entering into those depths may at times very well feel like a type of death, but Jesus is willing to encounter us in a way that we can willing follow Him wherever He leads.

Marriage is one practical area where we have to die to ourselves in order to follow Jesus' path.  As I think about my marriage, I realize that there has been phases where I have not wanted to follow Jesus' leading, particularly, in the area of submission.  I'd love to say, that I've been a great Christian wife always ready to follow my husband's lead.  But there have been many times where I was cringing inside, or defiant to his lead.  I wanted him to prove beforehand that he was worthy of being followed before I would follow.  As a result, frustration and disappointment began to dominate my marriage.  Thankfully, the Lord stepped in to change me.  In my process, the Lord began to ask me to trust Him first and that part of that trust would at times entail dying to my "rights" to have my own way and to instead submit to my husband's leadership.  It was not an easy process and at times it was quite painful.  But in the midst of that "death" God has brought about such life.  I emerged from my spiritual death and awoke to find a husband, who is an incredible man of God and leader.

Another place in my own life where I have experienced a type of "death" in order to follow Christ has been in ministry to others.  One particular time of ministry, was extremely difficult for me and in the process, I thought to myself, "I am going to have to die to myself in order for this thing to work."  I felt like the Lord smiled and said, "Exactly."  I then asked Him, "Is this really how deep your love goes - that a death is needed in order to bring life?"  And He said, "Yes."  You see sometimes for us to be able to serve others in a life-giving way, we are going to have to die to ourselves as we follow Jesus: 

Hebrew 12:1b-2
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross,
 scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The primary way we walk out our Christianity is through love.  In order to love and serve others well we may very well need to die to ourselves to follow Christ's lead.  The good news is that He has gone that way before us and He has overcome it with a new and better life.  So my question remains, "Have you found something worth dying for?"

I pray your answer is, "Yes."

I haven't encountered Christ in a way that I am willing to die.

However, if your answer to this question is no, I would like to share some thoughts.  I know that it would be very easy to read this post and come up with 10 different ways you haven't died to yourself and then begin to come up with strategies on "how to do better tomorrow."  You could beat yourself up and say, "I don't really love Jesus."  If that is your reaction, then you've missed the point.  The "key" to this is to FOLLOW Jesus' lead, and He knows how to speak to you.  However, so many of us have never been taught to listen for His voice because we have been taught to be on a mission of self-improvement.

If your immediate reaction is self-improvement, I believe it is due to one of the greatest misunderstandings of the church today - the idea that a Holy God cannot be in the presence of sin.  In my series entitled, Journey to Understand Grace: Part 3, I address this misunderstanding in depth.  But very simply, Jesus Christ could not have been fully God here on earth if that concept is true.  Because of our obsession with the "problem of our sin" we end up total ignoring the beauty of the cross and what Jesus did.  God states in Psalm 103:12 that He has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west.  So what does this have to do with trusting Jesus?  If you still think your sin is an issue between the two of you, then you will not come to Him to listen nor trust His leading and guidance.  Instead, you will be spending all your time, trying to figure out how to get yourself better in order to spend time with Him.  However, it will be a fruitless cycle of despair and desperation because apart from Christ you cannot be righteous.  So if you don't feel like you can come to Him because of your failures and you try to get better in order to come to Him, you will fail over and over and over again.  Or Beloved, you can embrace the truth.  Jesus Christ came to set you free from the curse of sin and death and you have full access to Him 24/7 no matter what you have done.  This kind of love is profound and can be found in no other place. 

Jesus invitation to Peter provides a perfect scenario of the difference between self-improvement and following Jesus' lead.  Peter had declared that He would follow Jesus to the death but ended up denying Him 3 times!  Then, Jesus came to Peter and asked Peter 3 times if Peter loved Him.  After the third time, Peter finally said, "Lord you know all things..."  Jesus replied, "Follow me."  And that is where the truth lies.  Jesus knew Peter's heart the whole time, but before Peter understood this, Peter thought it was his duty to prove his love to Jesus by the things he did.  Jesus instead showed His great love for Peter that NOTHING could get in the way of Jesus' love for him, including failure, and that Jesus is the One that will lead us the way we should go.  We just have to follow Him.

So I don't know what lies have gotten in the way to prevent you from a desire to follow Jesus with all your heart even unto death.  However, I do know that He is a faithful, True and loving God and He will meet you right where you are at.  In addition, I hope that you understand this "death" to yourself is not so that you can live a miserable existence.  Rather Jesus says, "he who gives up his life for me, will find it (Matthew  10:39)."  This death, is an exchanging of the lies and the masks that we carry around and hide behind.  The result of this "death" is life and life abundant.


In Christ,


Not enough time?

"Hurry, hurry, hurry!"
"We are running out of time!"
"We don't have enough time to do that right now!"

As I've been listening to myself talk to my kids the last several weeks, those would be among the top statements that have been coming out of my mouth.  I began realizing that time, or rather the lack of enough time were dominating my thoughts about and my reactions to most situations.  The future and what "needed to be done next" were becoming more important to me than the present. 

The Lord, has hit my pause button and has invited me to live in TODAY instead of always the next moment.  First off, He has shown me that I already live in eternal life.  According to

John 17:3
"this is eternal life: that they know you,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." 

Eternal life has started NOW and so the truth is - I am NOT running out of time.  I am already living in eternal life.  I've been learning more and more each day that He really IS there in every situation and time, wanting to love on us and help us through each moment.

Acts 17:28
"For in Him we live and move and have our being."

I do not need to be afraid of the future because He has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). The fact that I'm walking in eternity now has helped me to invest in the things that have eternal significance - relationships.  I can enjoy today with my husband, my kids and my friends.  My relationships with them and with God are the only things that hold eternal weight.


In Christ,

Book Review: In Visible Fellowship

If you've been around my blog for a while you know that I admire the life and writing of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Last year, I had the opportunity to do a book review of Costly Grace: A Contemporary view of The Cost of Discipleship by Jon Walker.  Jon Walker has now done another modern re-write of Bonhoeffer's book Life Together called In Visible Fellowship.



In Visible Fellowship is a very light but beautiful read.  Each chapter is only 2-3 pages long.  The format includes a quote by Bonhoeffer, some thoughts to ponder, Scripture verses and a few follow up questions.  The main theme discusses how we should live together as the body of Christ in fellowship (which you know is one of my favorite things to think about these days). 

I believe this book is a valuable resource and would be a great book for a fellowship group to dive into together.  It is a simple and short read, but the thoughts and concepts presented have an important conversational depth to them.

Another reason why I especially like this book is that it allows us to think about Christianity outside of our contemporary biases.  God's truth expands cultures and time periods and Bonhoeffer lived in a different culture and in a different time period.  I believe it is important to grasp a hold of Christianity with a fuller and deeper understanding by considering thoughts and aspects from those who came and lived before us.  This book provides a wonderful opportunity for that to happen.

In Christ,


I received a complimentary edition of this book from Leafwood Publishers.  I was not paid for my opinion and all thoughts expressed are mine and mine alone.

Waiting on the Lord

What does it mean to wait on the Lord?  Personally, I believe it means to trust that the Lord is moving even though we can't see what He is doing; it is an element of faith.  In order for us to trust Him, we need to rest in His character, that He is who He says He is even when we don't see it. 

Years ago, I read a commentary on Exodus 33:18-22:


Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you,
and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom
 I will have compassion. 20 But,”
he said,
“you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”


21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23
Then I will remove my hand and you
will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

The commentary stated that Jewish tradition teaches the following based on this story: "You cannot see God in the moment, you can only see where He has been."  I have found this to be so true in my life.  There have been many moments when I have called out to the Lord in the desperation of the moment and got up discouraged because I didn't get "an answer" in that moment.  However, there are so many more times when I have emerged from a season of hardship and looked back and I can see God's hand EVERYWHERE!  Why?  I think that this Jewish commentary sheds some light on the why.  God is always present and working but we do not have the ability to see Him in the moment.  However, just because we can't presently see Him, does not mean that He is not at work.  Because of this truth, I have been taking the time to learn how to wait on the Lord.

As I said in the beginning, waiting on the Lord means to rest in His character in the midst of situations; instead, of being in despair, I choose to rest in the faithfulness of the Lord and wait in eager expectation of the day when I can look back and say, "There you were."

The Psalms provide us with plenty examples of doing this, here are a few:

Psalm 5:3
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

Psalm 37:7

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 130:5

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

I am learning that it is so worth waiting on the Lord.  There comes a time in our lives when what we believe should begin to affect the reality of how we live our daily lives.  One way to do this is by learning how the Lord operates so when hard times come we are not confused.  The Lord has promised that He will always be faithful, even if we are not faithful; that He will never leave us or abandon us.  If and when you are in a situation where you can't see His face, learn to wait on the Lord.  Don't let the smallness of our minds, cloud out the greatness of our God.  Instead, wait in eager expectation that He has placed you in the cleft of the rock (Jesus) and know that there will be a day when you can look back and say, "There you were."

In Christ,

Our Words

I had the pleasure of going to the grocery store with both of my children today.  They are quite well-behaved but this particular grocery store is ALWAYS busy and the aisles seem extra tight.  My kids like to ride, one on each side, which keeps them conveniently near and gives me one less thing to worry about.  Well today, of course, seemed extra busy and we were doing our best to stay out of the way of others.  We had passed an older gentleman once and he seemed slightly perturbed by the girth of my cart.  Low and behold, we ended up in the next aisle with him.  This time we did have a problem, because there was a supporting beam going down one side of the aisle, and then in my lane a box of halloween candy blocking the path.  These obstacles changed it from a two-lane path to more of a one and a half-lane.  Of course, my kids were preoccupied with each other, chatting across the cart, so it took me an extra second to inform them that they needed to get off to make room for this man to pass.  In the meantime, the man got very upset, shaking his cart and saying "g-dammit" kind of under his breath.  We passed by going in our opposite directions.

Normally, this event would be very upsetting to me.  I was racking my brain of "what I could say" if we happened to pass ways again... However, the Holy Spirit nicely reminded me of some of the things I've been contemplating lately.  The first was a post from Alisa Hope Wagner's blog, called Stop Cursing.  It's a tremendous article (that I highly recommend you stop by to read) but the gist of it was that our words have power to them.  We have the power to bring life and death to people.  The thoughts in her article, were later re-affirmed to me when I read Ascent from Darkness.  Because of both of those readings, I've become acutely aware of the power of our thoughts and words, and I've had no desire to be an unconscious participant in satan's business.

So as I pushed my cart down the aisles I spent time in prayer, "Lord, how would you have me to react to this man?" I was reminded of the Scriptures, which say to bless those who curse you, to pray for your enemies.  So I began to pray for that man.  I don't know what happened in his day, or his life for that manner to make him so angry at that moment. But as I prayed I was filled with compassion for him, and prayed that the untapped value in him would be revealed and that he would know the power and the love of the Lord in his life.  We didn't run into each other for awhile, which I was glad about, since I was still coming into agreement with the Lord about the best way to handle this.  But several aisles later, I saw him.  The Lord just told me to smile at him.  And I did, thinking in my head, the Lord loves you.  Lo and behold, he smiled back...  At that moment, he didn't seem like such a mean, old, cranky man to me anymore.

So I share this with you, not to give myself a pat on the back, but hopefully to make all of us more acutely aware of the power of our thoughts, words and actions.  Even in something so small as an incidence at the grocery store, we have the power to choose.  If we choose life, we can carry the truth of God's love in us and allow it to overflow from our hearts to others.  Like I said above, I personally have no desire to join with the enemy in spreading ugliness and hatred towards others.  Today, let us surrender to the beauty of the Lord's way and spread His love.

In Christ,

Book Review: Ascent from Darkness


I recently finished the book  Ascent from Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior by Michael Leehan.  The back of the book states:

A life of difficulty and disappointment set 33-year old Michael Leehan up for the worst decision of his life—to make a deal with the Devil to follow and serve him. Practicing the dark arts that include ritualistic cuttings and blood sacrifices, while fine tuning his manipulation and control skills, Michael launched into a twenty year downward spiral that included job loss and detachment from loved ones, and even jail time.


But God had another plan that included a group of Christian men to love him and pray for him—even when it became evident his assignment from Satan was to kill their pastor, Craig Groeschel.

The life Michael Leehan lives today is an incredible testimony of the transforming power of God's mercy and grace, but is also a wakeup call to the church to be fully aware of the spiritual war that is going on all around them, and to the ultimate battle for their souls.

"I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Acts 26:18

_____________________________________

This autobiography was pretty incredible and at times almost unbelievable.  Once again, I was amazed how many times throughout his life story God placed believers in Mike's life.  Some were small encounters, others were bigger but in the scope of his life I think each person played a role and had a contributing significance to his eventual salvation.  The sin in his life was paramount and it just goes to show once again that Christ's love has no bounds and can take even the "worst of sinners" and turn their lives around.  God was on a relentless pursuit of Mike throughout his life, and Mike's life almost ended in death several times.  The book was written in such a suspenseful way that even though I knew he was going to live and be saved I was on the edge of my seat as to who was going to win and when.

As I stated, there were times that it seemed almost unbelievable.  I appreciated the fact that the book ended with testimonies from people who knew Mike before he was saved and after.  They vouched for the validity of his story and they vouched for the incredibly on fire, changed life that Mike now leads.  I even looked up the pastor of his church, whom Mike spent one year planning how he was going to murder him, he is a real, well-known, published pastor. 

If you are one of those who don't really believe that satan and demons are real, then you just might want to peek at this story.  If you want to appreciate the need for spiritual warfare, and to realize that the enemy is very real and intent on bringing destruction to the church, you might want to peek at this book.  If you want to be amazed once again at how deep God's love can reach then this story is a great place to start. 

In Christ,



PS I received this book free of charge via Booksneeze.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Excellent Book: A Heart for Freedom



Last night, I finished an incredible book called A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling.  The back of the book describes it best:

The dramatic and fascinating story of Chai Ling,
commander-in-chief of the student protesters at Tiananmen Square
and witness to the massacre of thousands of Chinese civilians.
Risking imprisonment and possible death for her leadership role
in the student democracy movement,
she was on the run in China for ten months while
being hunted by the authorities. She eventually escaped to the U.S.,
completed her education at Princeton and Harvard,
found true love, and became a highly successful entrepreneur.
 But her desperate quest for freedom, purpose,
and peace—which she had sought in turn through academic achievement,
romantic love, political activism, and career success—was never
satisfied until she had an unexpected encounter with a formerly forbidden faith.
Her newfound passion for God led to her life’s greatest mission:
Fighting for the lives and rights of young girls in China.

This book was excellent on so many levels.  I was 11 years old when the attack on Tiananmean Square took place.  I remember seeing a picture on the front of Time magazine and I always knew that people died that day, but I had no idea why.  This book did an excellent job explaining the historical whys behind the Tiananmean Square events.  It also gave me great admiration and love for the people of China and their desire for freedom.  In addition, the book gave me insight into how first generation immigrants to America might feel even though they are now "free" their past still has huge impacts on them.  The book is excellent if you are just looking at it for those reasons.  But to top it off, she has become a daughter of God in the last two years!

The incredible impact that the love of God has had on this tremendously inspiring woman is beyond words.  He truly is a Redeemer, healer and lover of people's souls.  As a result of her love for God she has launched a new movement of God's love to set the people of China free.  Her specific focus is to end gendercide through her initiative called All Girls Allowed.  Whether you are interested in the book (which I hope you are) or not, please stop by this website.  100% of donations goes straight to the cause of helping the women of China!  Their four focuses are: help end gendercide, educate abandoned girls, rescue trafficked children, and defend mothers from forced abortions.  37 million girls have been lost to China due to the One Child Policy.  However, Chai Ling has not been overcome by the tremendous weight of this statistic.  She is calling us to make a difference and after you read her life story, you will understand how the Father has equipped this beautiful woman to be a leader.  She truly believes through the love of Christ, we can make an impact in one generation.



I guarantee this book will rock your heart!

In Christ,



Disclosure: I received this book free of charge for the purpose of review.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.  I do have Amazon affliate links in this post.

Book Review: Close Enough to Hear God Breathe

So I am supposed to do a book review on Close Enough to Hear God Breathe by Greg Paul.  Did I read the book?  Yes, I did.  Do I have an opinion on the book, uh, not really.  I'm kind of speechless.  It was a combination of Greg Paul's personal story, intertwined with Scripture and thoughts about the intimacy of God.  How can you critique someone's life story?  I don't think you really can, or should.

So again, how do I feel about the book?  Well, he juxtaposes a lot of hurt and pain alongside God's redeeming love.  For me the style was slightly strange but I think I saw what he was trying to say and agreed with what he had to say.  He would tell bits of stories, go off on a story about God and then come back again to his personal story and kind of finish it off.  It was kind of like hearing about a "family secret."  You heard enough to make you curious about what was really happening, enough to create a scene in your own mind, but you never got enough pieces of the story to understand what was really going on. 

If you want to read the book you can, if not, you don't have to:).  It was a shorter, relatively easy read and it may speak to different personalities better than it did to my own.

In Christ,



I received this  book for free as part of the Booksneeze by Tommy Nelson Publishing.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are mine and mine alone.

My Hokey Pokey of Grace

My aunt sent me a video the other day about Brennan Manning's newest book:  All is Grace


You'll have to watch the video of it to understand the emotion behind the book...  Anyhow, as I watched the video I was reminded of how Brennan Manning was one of the first people who opened my life to the idea of grace as a lifestyle.  The next morning, I was singing "The Hokey Pokey" in the kitchen, with my kids of course, and it reminded me of how my journey with grace has been:

 "I put my right hand in, I pull my right hand out, I put my right hand in and I shake it all about."

You see I have been dancing with the story of grace for the last 13 years.  The names that have been influential in my story of grace have been Brennan Manning, Philip Yancy, Shane Holden, Wayne Jacobsen, John Eldredge, my father-in-law Keith, Erwin Mcmanus etc.  You see, as I have danced through this journey, I've put myself in and I've pulled myself out.  When I have put one body part in, I've danced and enjoyed it, but I soon pulled out.  The Father, however, didn't stop pursuing me with this angle of love. 

What kept pulling me out?  One, it was too good to be true.  Two, I've been reading my Bible since I was 8 years old and there were too many "scary" verses.  Also, I often heard from pulpits that if I got too comfortable in grace, I would start down the slippery hill to hell.  But as I've continued to immerse myself in the Word along with these conversations with others, my inhibitions kept unraveling.  I think the piece that kept holding me back is that I still thought I had an important role to play to keep this thing together.

However, a couple weeks ago I listened to the sermon Understanding the New Covenant by Neil Rhodes and that put the last piece into place for me.  See through this sermon he showed how the New Covenant that we live under was established between The Father and The Son (Isaiah 42:6).  We are just beneficiaries of the New Covenant!  It's taken a couple of weeks to settle into my spirit, but wow, it has been so freeing.  For someone who has spent the majority of her life as a performance-based lover to find out WHY I didn't need to perform (in fact never needed to perform) was so freeing.  So when I was singing "The Hokey Pokey" and I put my whole self in I realized that I don't need to take myself out anymore.

I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for dancing with me all along the way and knowing that there would be a day when I got it!  I look forward to the next song, because I am now all-in on grace.

In Christ,

Bridges

In Sonlight, we are currently studying the section of American history where two worlds are converging. Reading about it, has been heartbreaking. Sonlight, does a good job of allowing you to see things from both sides (the Natives and the Europeans) and to show the many errors of man's ways in the events that took place. One of the books that we are reading is the The Incans, Mayans and Aztecs by John Holzmann. This book approaches the study of these cultures from a Christ-centered perspective. One of the interesting things I learned as we studied the Aztecs is that the history of them settling in Mexico had many parallels to the story of Abraham settling in Israel. As I read this, my heart broke for the inability of the Spanish people to bring the message of the Gospel to these people. I could see so many ways where they could have taken what the Aztecs were already doing religiously and point them to Jesus, how He fulfilled the law and that they no longer needed to make sacrifices to cover their sins. It would have been such a beautiful, freeing message for these people (especially for families who no longer wanted to sacrifice their relatives to satisfy god). Instead, all the Spaniards could see, besides gold, was the Aztecs ungodliness and they were hell-bent on destroying it. Instead of using the Aztecs search for God and their longing to be righteous, as inroads to bringing the Gospel, the Spanish, only saw their sin and they went about destroying it man's ways. The Incans even had a “god” that only a few worshiped that they said was the creator of all mankind and the world. However, they believed this god was unknowable. Oh, if only the Spanish could have been like Paul who walked the streets of Athens and told them that “the God of the unknown” they worshiped, has made Himself known to them through the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:16-34).

So, the question becomes, does this in any way shape or form apply to us as believers today? The main pastoral influence in my life right now is Erwin McManus of Mosaic Church. His Sunday gathering has entered into a study called "The Truth Between Us." They began the series on September 11, and started with the topic, Islam and Christianity. I must say that when I heard about the study part of me was cringing with fear and the other part was curious with excitement. I debated in my mind, whether the series was even worth listening to or if it was something that I should skip. But, as I mentioned in the beginning, the Holy Spirit has been priming me with questions completely separate of this series.
My initial fear, after hearing about the series, was that the Gospel and beauty of who Jesus Christ is would be watered down, overlooked, compromised and/or excused when looking at and comparing it to Islam. However, another way God has been teaching me and preparing me to listen to this series started in John 1 (I told you I love that passage right now):

John 1:5
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overpowered it.

You see, Jesus is Light and darkness does not overpower Him! As Christians, we do NOT need to be afraid of entering into darkness. We carry the Light, and the Light of the Gospel has the power to change and overcome the darkness that it encounters. What I love about this series and what Erwin has done through it, is he has challenged us to encounter peoples of other religions to find bridges, in which we can bring the Gospel of who Jesus is to them.

It is so easy for me to look back 500 years ago in history and see how the Spanish blew it. That there were so many ways they could have used what the Mayans, Incans and Aztecs already believed to draw them to the beauty of who Jesus is. However, it is nearly impossible for me to think that anything Muslims, Buddhists, Atheist, etc believe or do has anything to do with God. The main thing that keeps me from even going there mentally is fear. I cannot do the talk justice, because it was beautifully laid out, but what I learned is that we do NOT need to be afraid to sit, discuss and listen to people's of other faiths. If we believe we have the TRUTH, the LIGHT of the world in us, then the truth that we bring and the light that we bring is more powerful than the darkness.

My challenge to myself as I listen to and through this series is to take God at His Word. First, God says He has created every human being with a longing for eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  If that is true, then every human being is finding a way to fill that hole.  We also know that we have an enemy who masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).  So we should not be surprised when other religions have enough truth to bring them to some sort of temporary satisfaction.  Many of the things they do, desire to do and try to do are attempts to quiet the hole within their hearts.  Instead of running from people of other religions and beliefs we need to take Jesus at His Word and GO into all the world and make disciples. Do I believe Him enough and believe the power of the Gospel enough that I can enter in discussion with people's of other faiths, listen to them respectfully and have confidence that God will reveal bridges that I can cross to show the beauty of who He is to them?

If this discussion in any way piques your curiosity then I would recommend that you take time to listen to Erwin's message: The Truth Between Us: Islam and Christianity.

In Christ,

Grace IS Dangerous!

In this last year, I've come to a greater understanding and acceptance that I truly am a child of God (thanks to resources such as Birthright and discussions with my father-in-law).  Sometimes, when a light bulb turns on you are able to see things so much clearer.  It has been exciting to re-enter the living Word of God being secure in my identity as a child of God.  I've been trying to read the Gospel of John, but I can barely stand it because it is so overwhelmingly beautiful.  I can now see why this book is usually recommended for new believers to start with when they begin reading the Bible.

John 1:1-18 are such beautiful verses and as I glanced at them to write this post, I was again overwhelmed by all the angles I could discuss.  However, I am going to grab only one small nugget from there but it is oh, so worth sitting in and reflecting upon that whole passage.

John 1
vs 14
The Word became a human and lived
among us.  We saw His glory-the glory that
belongs to the only Son of the Father-
and He was full of grace and truth.
vs 16
Because He was full of grace and truth,
from Him we all received
one gift after another.
vs 17
The law was given through Moses,
but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ!

As I read this, the two words that jumped out at me continually were the words GRACE and TRUTH.  When Jesus walked on this earth, the two things that He was full of were GRACE and TRUTH.  That is how He revealed Himself to us and we have the privilege of living in that beauty.  It is cleary different then living according to the Old Covenant.*
The one thing the American body of Christ seems well-versed in is the law; how to live a moral life, what it looks like and doesn't look like.  However, according to John, the two things that defined the life of Jesus as he walked upon this earth, grace and truth, are the two things that seem so far from our grip and understanding.  Throughout my journey in Christianity, I have heard so many Christians shy away from grace.  I've even had a reader stop reading my blog because of my emphasis on grace.  "If you just teach grace," they say, "it's dangerous."  They are absolutely right!  Jesus is dangerous, and grace is radical. It is only by grace that we can freely walk out our faith.  The problem is that instead of embracing the dangerous beauty of grace, we try to tame it and have people focus on the law and the do's and don'ts of the law.

If grace is scary to you, I would encourage you to go on a journey to discover and understand it.  Don't try to tame it, but learn to walk in it.  If you do, you will be walking in the reality of who Jesus Christ is.

_______________________________________

(So that was all a tangent!)  Over the last 3 months, I've had 4 people ask me how to hear the voice of God.  Wow, that is a tough question, when I had to put words around it.  If you are a Christian, you already do hear the voice of God, but you may not be recognizing it as such.  Understanding, who Jesus is, will help you recognize His voice. 

Perhaps, it is a female thing, but I have lots of "voices" influencing my day, everyday. Am I measuring up to what so and so thinks or asked of me..., if I do such and such is that okay? Frankly, it is tiring to listen and try to measure up to so many voices!  After reading these verses in John 1, I have been challenged to listen ONLY to the voice of Jesus.  What a concept!  How do I recognize it?  It is the One and only voice full of Grace and Truth; and in that voice and that voice alone do I find rest. (Read John 10:1-14 for verses supporting the concept that our Good Shepherd does talk to us and that we need to recognize and follow only His voice).

In Christ,



P.S. Are you following my blog on Facebook yet?  If not, you can find me under pages: For His Glory Alone.  I currently have a link there for a great sermon about the *New Covenant.  Check it out!

Sacrificing humans

In Sonlight, we are currently reading Incas, Aztecs and Mayans by John Holzmann.  Yesterday, we were reading how the Aztecs would make human sacrifices to satisfy the Sun god.  The information was just mind-blowing.  After they finished their greatest temple they sacrificed between 20,000-50,000 people in celebration.  My kids asked how many people that was and the only analogy I could come up with was when we go to the Brewer Stadium it usually has about 50,000 people in it.  Their eyes just widened.  The other mind-blowing thing is that people would do this willingly.  They thought they needed to die to satisfy this god.

As I was reading this to my children, I was reminded of a post written a couple years back called God above all gods, which discusses our God, Yahweh, asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.  I was able to ask my kids what happened?  "God provided a sacrifice and Abraham didn't end up doing it!"  Exactly!  So often when this story is told the focus is put on Abraham and his courage.  I personally think  this emphasis loses the AMAZING, distinguishing BEAUTY of God's love.  If you study history, you will see that human sacrifice to satisfy "god" has been common in cultures, and that people willingly engage in that practice!  God, of course knew this and in the beautiful story of salvation, He made it absolutely clear that He is the One who provides the path of salvation because of His great love for us.

Jeremiah 32:25
They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom
 to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek,
 though I never commanded
—nor did it enter my mind—
that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.


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As we are reading about this in the Incans, Aztecs and Mayans, the book is quick to point out that demonic forces were behind this culture and how it worked and operated.  We stand amazed how a culture could be so "blind" to allow such atrocities to occur.  We think we have somehow become "enlightened" above religion.  However, demonic forces still operate in our world today and even to a greater degree.  All demons care about is the blood of human life, they could care less how the humans ease their consciousness about it.  As I read about in Love you More and have begun reading in A Heart for Freedom gendercide of females especially all around the world is commonplace practice.  According to A Heart for Freedom, China's one birth policy has taken 400 million innocent lives.  It is easy for us to still judge what is happening across the ocean while ignoring the fact that in our own culture we allow the exact same thing to happen in the name of "woman's rights."  Let us learn from history.  As we look back and can judge other cultures for their ignorance in the name of religion let us not kid ourselves, the exact same thing is still happening but it is cloaked under a different ideology.

And last but not least let us not lose focus of the beauty of Yahweh, who is the giver of life, and that through the understanding of the power of His love, Jesus Christ has the power to bring incredible change and healing to all human lives.

In Christ,


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