Tag Archive | forgiven

I am (fill in the blank)

2015-03-01 NGChurch (80)2

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God –” John 1:12

I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety. I have some understanding of the issue, at least as it pertains to my circumstances. Everyone’s issues are different so what I’ve learned can’t necessarily apply to everyone, but it will apply to some. My hope is that for those “some”, they will find hope in what I have to say.

I recently read an article in which the author states, “I am depression,” over and over again.

What I’ve found through my experience is that in stating it this way, you take on the reality of it. It actually does become who you are. You’ve given it permission to be you and for you to be it.

For a long time I let myself be a worrier. I let myself be consumed with a negative view of the world, of people and of myself. But in Christ, there is no reason to worry because He is good, does good, gives good things and brings good of every situation for those who love Him.

Even though I suffered from depression, I am not depression. Rather, I am a child of God.

I am loved by the Creator of the universe and have at my disposal every blessing possible according to His will and who He is. When I look at myself, I can become depressed because I am flawed, at times I don’t measure up and I will always find someone else who is just a bit better than me at something. But when I turn to God and receive His love, I have reason to rejoice and be glad. I am who HE says I am. I am precious. I am loved. I am a delight. I am worthy of His love. I am able to do all that He has created me to do. I am protected by His grace and mercy. I am able to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patience, faithful, gentle, kind, good and exhibit self-control because this is who He is in me. I am free, healed, redeemed, restored, content, and new because this is what He came to do for me, and for you.

I am not depression. And for at least some of you, you don’t have to be either. You do get to choose. God lets you have that freedom.

Jesus came to heal you and set you free from the things that weigh you down. Will you choose to accept that freedom? The sad reality is that sometimes it’s easier to live as a prisoner. I’ve considered it. As a prisoner we’re free from responsibility and accountability. We’re able to excuse, justify and blame – we just can’t do anything about it. Freedom requires action. And the strength to step into that freedom and action, responsibility and accountability is part of the blessing we receive in Jesus.

Who will you choose to be? What will you choose to accept as your foundation in this uncertain world?

Today I choose to be who God says I am. Today I choose Jesus and the gift of freedom He offers.

Prayers for a Mother and Her Son

I saw the news this morning: 9 killed in church shooting.

Not in the middle east. Not in Africa. Not across the world in some remote village. But right here in the United States.

I heard report after report on the news and read posts of prayers going out to Charleston.

And yet, I felt distant from it all.

Aren’t I supposed to break down with compassion and empathy? As a Christian, aren’t I supposed to mourn with those who mourn? And here I was, feeling some what empty. What was wrong with me?

And then … the flood gates opened.

I started thinking of a mother seeing an image of her son on the television, recognizing him, knowing it was her son who did this thing. And my heart broke for her. My heart breaks for him, his future, who he was meant to be. My heart breaks for each person whose life was cut short because of the decision of this one man.

As Christians, we can’t be surprised when this type of thing happens. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean we don’t hurt and cry and mourn the loss of precious life. But we can’t be surprised. We’ve been told this will happen again and again.

Our battle isn’t with flesh and blood. We have an enemy who does not rest. We have an enemy who will use whatever means necessary to bring about his evil.

But we also serve a God who has already won the battle. His strength, compassion, love, mercy, grace and joy will carry those in that church. As they trust in His faithfulness and sovereignty, they can know that what we see in this world is not the end product. He has the final say in the outcome of this situation. He has the final say in the eternal lives of their loved ones.

In the final words of Jesus, He prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

May this man know, confess, repent and be forgiven. May God’s justice be served and grace and love be known.

And I pray that just as Paul, persecutor and murder, came to know the loving mercy of the Savior, so will this man. That the hope that does not disappoint will be realized. That our judgments which are sure to come will not overshadow the grace and forgiveness of our loving God.

I pray that the enemy of our souls will not be able to use this opportunity to disprove the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior. That as we walk in this world as His ambassadors, as we face tragedy and loss, chaos and confusion, we will love one another and pray for our enemies.

I pray each mother’s heart would be healed and made whole. I pray this man would be set free from the darkness he’s walked in and come to see and know the Light of Christ. Jesus will have the final say in this man’s life, not us. And I pray that those in Charleston who suffered such great loss would know and be comforted by the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.

In Jesus name. Amen.

A Wise Leader (Part 3)

friends(View: A Wise Leader Part 1 and Part 2)

Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

As I’ve gone through the process of learning to ask for, receive and accept feedback, I’ve learned so much about myself, others and God. I know I need to be more comfortable with and accepting of who I am. I need to allow myself room to learn and grow understanding that the process is not always easy. As soon as I feel like I’ve done something that seems inadequate, I fold which is why feedback has been so difficult.

Because I see myself as inadequate, I expect others to as well. I read a blog by Seth Godin a while back where he talks about the idea of always bracing yourself for the worst. It’s a difficult, defeating and draining place to live. It also makes relationships hard to navigate because you never really feel like you can be at ease with others. Rather, you have to be in a posture of defense, ready to deflect or fight back.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NLT)

But this isn’t really fair to others. In Christ or not in Christ, all people need to be viewed from Christ’s point of view. People fit into two categories: Those who already know Jesus and those who Jesus wants to know Him. All people are made in the image of God. Jesus died for everyone so I need to view them as someone He loves, and be secure in His love myself as I love them, too.

So what does this say to me about others in regards to feedback?

What I learned about others is that they do truly want to be encouraging and helpful.

While I think this is true in general, I believe it goes to a higher level in the family of believers. When people are aware of their own sin, failings and shortcomings, they are more willing to forgive, overlook and come alongside someone who struggles. Because we know our hearts are set on Jesus, we trust each other’s hearts in a deeper way. Their hearts are for us just as God is for us. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but when heard with an understanding that this person has a desire to move you forward, lift you over a hurdle or straight-out break down a wall, it can be received with the grace, kindness and love it was intended.

So here are a few ways I hope to be intentional with others.

1. Be open.

People like to give feedback. People like to be heard. Sometimes, we just need to listen. Listening doesn’t mean we need to receive what they have to say, but when we really listen, we might just hear something we really need to know. We might also learn something about the person speaking because God actually wants us to enter into a conversation that will help them as well.

2. Be discerning.

As I said before, we don’t need receive everything that’s said to us. We also don’t need to ask everyone for their opinion. Discernment helps us know who to engage in the process of growing. It helps us hear and recognize truth from lies, understand who has well-intentioned motives, and determine if they really have a solid understanding of what they are talking about. There is so much information available today that people think they are an expert just because they read it on the internet.

  1. Be grace-filled.

I say really stupid stuff sometimes. This isn’t about me being inadequate. It’s just a fact that I’m flawed and make mistakes. I don’t have all the information, I don’t have a complete understanding of the situation and sometimes, I don’t speak from a humble servant’s heart even though I know I should. But God has never turned His back on me so when others say things that hurt, I need to be willing to offer grace, forgive and give them room to learn and grow as well. It’s easy to want to fight back and defend, even accuse, but that’s not the way of Jesus. Grace that doesn’t overflow hasn’t been fully accepted.

Something to Consider…

Do you tend to brace yourself for the worst? Do you dismiss people who don’t say what you want to hear? Do you have a hard time seeing others through God’s eyes, especially when what they have to say seems harsh and unfair?

We are a broken people. In Christ, we have the freedom to be broken. In Christ, we have the freedom to love broken people. As we are healed in Christ, we will love and listen to each other His way.

Give It Up and Gain

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

A number of years back, a woman came to one of the Bible study groups I was attending and said that rather than give something up for Lent, she would start something new. That was the reason she started coming to our study.

I go back and forth between “giving up” something old and “taking on” something new, but I don’t think we can effectively have one without the other. We give something up to make room for more of God in our lives. We turn to Him rather than that thing we gave up. In essence, we do something new.

And to start something new means we do give up an old habit or way of spending time, maybe an old way of thinking.

The problem comes when we focus more on the fact that we had to give something up than on the fact that we have a good and loving God who is better than anything we could ever lose or choose to walk away from.

I find many ways to misuse the things God has given me: food, anger, work, relationships, love, and even my sense of right and wrong. Each of these when used to glorify God are good. When I use them to glorify or satisfy myself, they no longer serve the purpose for which God created them.

When I sacrifice my right to eat whatever I want for whatever reason I want, I can acknowledge God’s purpose for food to provide nutrition and energy for my body. It is also serves a purpose in celebrating and remembering relationships. But when food is the focus and not the relationship, I’ve missed the most important thing.

When I sacrifice my right to be angry, I can acknowledge God’s grace and forgiveness that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me to be reconciled to the Father through faith in Him. Righteous anger belongs to God.

When I sacrifice my work as the end-all, be-all of the definition of success, I can acknowledge the opportunities my work provides to serve, testify to and provide means for spreading His Word in my world. Success comes from doing God’s work in obedience.

When I sacrifice my dysfunctional relationships, I can acknowledge the unique treasure we were each created to be. I can see others from His perspective and understand better the value and worth we each have in Christ. I can stop putting demands on others to satisfy my needs and seek to serve God through helping to meet the needs of others.

When I sacrifice my desire to withhold love or manipulate with love, I can acknowledge that God loves unconditionally. His love found in His Word trains, rebukes, corrects and equips so that I can continue to grow in and receive the fullness of His love and then share it with others.

When I sacrifice my understanding of right and wrong, I can acknowledge God as the only good and faithful Judge. I can allow the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of others so they can come to Jesus Christ seeking His truth for their lives. His truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Something to Consider:

How do you view what God asks you to give up for Him? Do you see and focus on the loss or the gain?

What one thing do you need from God today? What will you allow Him to remove from your life in order to make room for Him to satisfy this need?

 

The Great Undo – It’s Done!

DSC06777“The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him.” Romans 3:22 (MSG)

This was my Facebook post the other day:

“I almost had a major freak out. Thankfully, I remembered the “undo” button before said freak out started. All is well in my world again.”

I am a database administrator for my church. One of my responsibilities includes running reports for our kids program. It all starts with one table in an Access database I created over the course of a couple of months. I download data from our main database, throw it in a table in Access and let queries and reports do their thing.

Whenever I run reports, I delete the old information from the table and replace it with the newest version of data. This time, I accidentally deleted the table, not just the data.

For anyone who isn’t a database junkie, you might not have any idea what I’m talking about and if you do, you may have no idea just how significant this was. A slip of the mouse on the wrong “X” and I could’ve been in for some major work.

Then I remembered the “undo” button. Would it work? Sometimes certain functions are not able to be undone. Would I get my entire table back and have my database running smoothly with a simple click of a button?

This time the answer was a major “YES”! Thank you, God that this program was forgiving of my mistake.

There are days when I would like, no LOVE a big undo button for my life:

“Oops, I didn’t mean to say that.”
“I wish I hadn’t done that.”
“Can I write my life in pencil so it’s easier to erase the mistakes?”

But life happens and it’s messy. There are scribbles, doodles, distractions and big time mistakes all over the pages of my life. And while I can’t undo what I’ve said or done, I can recognize the mistakes and apologize. I can choose to learn from it and desire for it to be different, be intentional about it being different next time. And the next time, and the next time, and the next time…

What I’ve learned is that we actually do have an “undo” button, but it’s not one where we simply say, “oops”, click a button and get on with whatever we were doing.

Jesus Christ has provided a way to make things right. On the cross, it was finished; it was done…or undone depending on how you look at it.

We’ve made a mess of our lives, of our relationship with God and each other. But in Jesus, we have a way to make it right again. He is sitting at the crossroads asking, “Do you want it to be made right?” We have a choice, an option to do it different.

That is the question we have to ask ourselves. Do we want our relationship with God and others made right? It is not always an easy answer because even though He makes it possible, it does require us to move forward in this new way. We cannot do what we’ve always done and expect it to be right. We have to be willing to go and do the things He says will make it right.

And while others may not believe or accept our apologies even when we know Jesus, we can be certain that through Jesus our relationship with God is completely restored. We can know that He is the Father, Brother, or Friend who will never leave us and the Authority who will never harm us. He is always available and always willing to comfort. He will always speak truth to our hearts even when it’s hard to hear. He makes everything wrong right again.

“Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them – Jews and Gentiles) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:23-24 (MSG)

Something to Consider…

Has your heart been hard toward God, toward Jesus? He wants good things for you. He has good things for you. These things require your participation. Ask Him to help you accept and receive the truth of His goodness. He will make things right.

While relationships between people require two hearts to be open to each other in order to be reconciled, what can you do to be open and make things right? Maybe you’ve done everything you can but still no results. Be patient and be ready with an open and willing heart. God’s timing is perfect.

Choose Life

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

I’ve debated this blog and gone back and forth about it for a week now. I speak from my heart and out of my love for Jesus and His for me. I believe that based on my experience, God is bringing good from it by asking me to speak to this issue. There is hope.

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Moses is writing about the promises of God. God has given us a choice to trust and accept His promises or reject them. There is life in His promises. There is eternal life in heaven, but there is also a fullness of life in the kingdom of heaven on earth.

I heard Graham Cooke speak at a conference in April of 2013 and he said, “What is true in the natural is true in the supernatural and what is true in the supernatural is true in the natural.”

This is something I try to remember as I see and experience the battles I face and understand that there is nothing we go through in this world, the natural world that He hasn’t already dealt with in the supernatural, the spiritual world.

Here’s what Moses says about life and death:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord you God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

God has given us the free will to choose life or death. We can choose life in Him for all eternity or death separated from Him for all eternity. That is our choice to make; He has given it to us.

Now how we receive life in Him for all eternity is on His terms, not ours. He gives us the option to choose His terms or not. And His terms – it’s Jesus. Receive the gift of free grace by repentance and faith through Jesus. Do this and you choose life, not death.

Now, if choosing life in the spiritual world is a blessing, then choosing life in the natural world is also a blessing. What is true in the supernatural, the spiritual, is true in the natural.

Let me give you this example: Say I’m married to a wonderful man who has a great job. He provides all I need: a nice home, food on the table, heat, water, healthcare benefits, a 401(k), vacations, and clothing. He brings me gifts and gives me opportunities to take time for my own needs and well-being. There is one thing he does; He hits my daughter once in a while. It’s only once in a while, here and there. Compared to everything else he does and provides it’s really quite insignificant. And besides, my daughter is weak and believes this is really the best answer. She made some mistakes and she can’t really expect there to be a better outcome than this. She understands all the other good things he does for us so she just concentrates on those things while he hits her.

I hope and pray that if I really was in this situation and believed this, you would think I was nuts! You may even want to call the authorities on me and my husband for allowing this to happen. I hope you would tell me how wrong this is. I hope that you would encourage me to leave this man, at least until he received help and understood the evil that was present in his actions. I hope that you would not settle for this life for my daughter.

The truth is we settle for this type of action for our daughters every day. We live in a society that chooses death. It tells women, even young girls, that there is nothing wrong with death. God says death is a curse; society says death is our right and legal choice. They say death is healthcare.

I fully understand that there will always be people in this world who will choose the world’s system over that of God’s. They will believe the lies they are told, that they are weak and need to get rid of their mistakes, make up for their mistakes on their own terms.

But God says we can’t get rid of our mistakes, our sins, on our own terms. Our sin is only removed through the blood of Jesus and we can only receive the blood of Jesus by choosing life, not death.

So as I have opportunity to call people’s attention to the outrageous acceptance of organizations that provide abortions, that say it’s okay to choose death, I will.

Yes, they provide various healthcare options and services for women all across this country. Yes, they meet the needs of many women. But, on occasion, once in a while, they kill babies.

I mean, women are weak (that’s what one woman told me), they are weak and this is the only way they know to deal with their mistake, their accident. It’s completely reasonable that we would overlook this atrocity for all the other benefits these organizations provide. We can’t really be expected to choose life when it hurts, when our situation is difficult, when it’s inconvenient for our own life, can we?

I’m here to tell you this thinking is nuts! This is wrong! Why on earth would we support this thinking for our daughters? When do we stop looking out for our own benefits and comforts and realize the horrible position in which we have helped to put other women? Maybe ourselves?

I choose to stand here and tell you life is a blessing and when you choose life in the natural, you are choosing a blessing. Death is a curse. Death is the consequence of sin in our own lives and the evil actions of others. And while we can’t undo the curse of our own or others actions, Jesus can.

When we stop choosing death and choose life in Christ, He alone removes the curse and gives us abundant blessings; life that never ends.

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…” Deuteronomy 19b

Life is a blessing. Life is a blessing when it hurts, when it’s difficult and even when it’s inconvenient. Even what we think is an unplanned life is a blessing because God planned it.

“For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Something to Consider…

Through Jesus, God redeems completely. If you have experienced the pain of an unplanned pregnancy and have chosen an abortion, I want you to know that God loves you and understands your pain. He wants to bless you through your choosing life in Jesus. If you are sorry for having chosen an abortion, tell God. He will forgive you. It’s a promise. You can know the full and abundant love and life found in Christ.

If you believe life is a blessing and death through abortion is not okay, help stop the lie and share the truth of the life found in Christ. He alone can right the wrongs and bring blessings when all that is seen is a curse. Help others understand and know they can choose life!

Cleansed Once and For All

???????????????????????????????“Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:2, 7 (NLT)

About two years ago, my husband and I decided to take on a minor makeover. The bathroom our daughters shared was in need of some repair. Moisture had condensed in the ceiling fan vent and dripped through damaging the ceiling. We had it repaired, but the new paint caused the old paint to peel making it look like there were upside down meringue whips covering half of the ceiling. At one point, water had run over the edge of the tub causing the paint to peel near the baseboard. In addition, the bathroom décor was not as appropriate for my daughters who were now young ladies and no longer little girls. A good cleaning, repairing and decorating were in order.

We took a long weekend to thoroughly clean the room, remove any cracked and broken materials, repair damaged spots, paint the entire room ceiling to floor and finally bring in new décor. It looked like an entirely different room when we were finished!

Both of our daughters were out-of-town during this process. One came home and was thrilled at how nice it looked. She noticed just how clean it was compared to when she left and decided she didn’t want to let it to get dirty again. In her resolve, she now cleans regularly. She treats it with the care it deserves.

It’s funny how once something gets dirty it’s so easy to let it stay dirty. The work we put into cleaning it just won’t last so we don’t waste our time.

Thank God, Jesus sees us differently.

When Jesus comes to us, we are a mess. He sees not just the shallow, maybe deep layer of dirt that covers us, but He sees beneath the surface. He sees the cracked and broken places in our hearts, the damaged material we’ve become. Some of it’s out of neglect, some has been caused by others, but either way, He knows we need a makeover.

And He doesn’t just point out our need; He takes on the project Himself. He will do the work we so desperately need in our lives.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)

I love that the very first thing He does is cleanse us from our sin – the filth and grime we sit in day after day. At times it’s so easy to believe we will never change, so we don’t. But Jesus changes us immediately when He thoroughly cleanses us of all unrighteousness.

Next, He gets to the nitty-gritty of the specific repairs of which we are in need. I wish it could all be taken care of in a long weekend, but it will be an ongoing process of repair and maintenance. Sometimes it will be painful as He strips and peels away the things that seem safe and feel comfortable, but are really hurting us as well as others.

The interesting thing about a Jesus makeover is that He is able to make complete what is not yet complete.

He doesn’t wait for all the work to be done before He gives us our new décor. We receive that as soon as we say, “Yes” to His invitation of a new life. We are a completely new person right off the bat even though the work continues.

So how do we keep ourselves “clean” while He is still repairing and working on our broken parts?

We choose to seek Him out daily asking Him to show us and clean us of anything not of Him. We refuse to go back to old habits, behaviors and attitudes with which He has already dealt. We allow Him to continue His work knowing all we need to do is be in agreement with Him.

In Him, we are free to respond in His righteousness to the world around us. We are cleansed and given a new identity, one many won’t recognize. Will you treat yourself with the care you deserve? Will you respond to His loving care for you?

Something to Consider…

Do you believe you are really a new creation with a new identity in Christ? Accept His forgiveness and be willing to see yourself through His eyes.

In what ways are you in need of a cleaning? Acknowledge them to Jesus. He is faithful to cleanse and repair you from top to bottom.

Do you have a difficult time maintaining the work He has already done? Remember, He doesn’t leave or give up; He is always there continuing His work in your life. Follow His lead knowing He and you are worth the effort.