Hello Monday <3

We did some yard work this weekend and by yard work, I mean I learned first hand about the thorny work of trimming roses back…

Among the  many thoughts that filled my mind as I attempted, unsuccessfully, to avoid bodily harm were:

<3 Sin, the Fall of Man, and how roses in heaven will not have thorns. Can I get a Hallelujah????

<3 A comparison of how painful one tiny jab of one of those nasty things was compared to a crown of them pressed down on the head of Jesus and how thankful I am for what He endured.

<3 That most people probably just trim their roses without making a life sermon out of it…

and…

<3 How thankful I am I only have to do this once a year.

or once a lifetime if I have these beasts permanently removed from the yard.

Just kidding.

I won’t … but the thought kept me going.

So all that being said, I sat in church yesterday with several scrapes on my forearms, a sore finger and a couple of slices on my ankles that looked like a bad encounter with a mean cat.

And then we did a different version of the Lord’s Prayer and while I stumbled through most of it trying to read the new version while reciting the old in my head…

(trust me, it isn’t easy having this kind of brain to live with because I can overanalyze a sneeze)…

these words caught my thorn-weary heart…

“Forgive us as we forgive those who owe us something”

or as my mind and soul heard it…

Lord, forgive me…

in the same way…

that I forgive..

those people who I feel…

owe me something.

And the Lord worked on my heart there in the quiet of the moment.

Because I saw the capacity of unforgiveness in a different way, even though God’s Word and many a good sermon and teaching have tried to help me see it for what it is.

I realized there are some people that I feel “owe me”…

maybe it’s an apology I am waiting for…

or a thank you…

or a recognition that I was right and they misjudged me.

Maybe it’s to somehow restore something they took from me…my time or my resources, a piece of my heart.

Maybe their choices have now put ugly scars on some of my sweetest moments from the past.

And by golly…they OWE me something to make up for it.

But then I think about what Jesus was telling me in the prayer He taught His disciples.

And all the times I have taken what wasn’t mine and squandered gifts.

All the times I messed up and caused pain.

All the times I clearly saw right from wrong and chose wrong.

All the times I was too busy having fun to even notice I was making a choice.

All the times I was ignorant of what I was doing and yet caused damage to others and to the Kingdom.

And if my being forgiven what I owe depends on my ability to forgive what others owe…ouch.

Such knowledge is a deep thorn cut to the soul for sure.

But it isn’t what convicts my heart of the sin of unforgiveness that I am so prone to commit.

It is the gratitude of the debt that was paid…

FOR ME…

BY HIM…

for what I owed.

This…

remembering the price paid for my sorry soul…

is what finally breaks the hard places in me that are waiting to be repaid.

My chains are gone…

I’ve been set free…

My God…My Savior…

has ransomed me…

His mercy….

His MERCY and GRACE….

not only RAIN…refresh…renew….revitalize me

they REIGN…RULE…are SOVEREIGN

 over

me <3

 

 

 

 

To wind it down, at least for the week <3

Happy Friday!

As we come to the end of the week, I leave you with one more thought regarding the Church … the Body of Christ universal.

I was visiting with a sister in Christ this week about some of the classic Christian writings from the past generations. We were discussing the timeless truths that sincere Christ-followers have expressed into their times and places.

The litmus test for timeless truth-writing is that it finds its foundations in God’s written word, not the climate of the culture around the author.

I struggle when believers say we can agree to disagree about the inerrancy of Scripture.

If the truth of Scripture on any point is up for grabs based on our preferences, than so is the message of Salvation.

God’s Word…from the beginning to the end…is God’s Word.

It either is. Or it isn’t.

And yes…

we have to study it ourselves and with others.

And yes…

there are AHA! moments when our eyes are opened to something we interpreted one way or the other and suddenly it becomes clear that we were missing what God was saying.

But no…

we can’t rewrite Scripture or disregard certain aspects of it that make us uncomfortable.

 

THIS applies to the way we view our world AND the way we examine ourselves in the deepest places.

Jesus, Himself, affirmed Scripture as TRUTH.

I love what the pastor at John’s church quotes – All truth is not found in Scripture, but all Scripture is truth. I believe he attributes that to one of his professors…I could be wrong…don’t sue me.

What this phrase means to me is that we can encounter true things outside of the Bible, but when we open the pages of Scripture and look deep into God’s Word…

E.V.E.R.Y. W.O.R.D.

IS

TRUTH

The world and those who have not received Christ are at liberty to regard the Bible as a story… a myth…a suggestion…a joke…a man-made thing to force people to obey a bunch of antiquated rules…or any number of things that we hear outside the Body.

But here, inside the Body…

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.                     Psalm 119:160

“…and the Scripture cannot be broken.” (Jesus)   John 10:35

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (Jesus)  John 17:17

“For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle (the smallest stroke in a Hebrew letter) will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Jesus)     Matthew 5:18

All Scripture is given by inspiration (literally breathed on to the page by the Living God through human authors), and is profitable for doctrine (the foundations of what we believe), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.   (Paul)  2 Timothy 3:16

And finally…when Jesus responded to Satan’s attempts to twist God’s Word and write his own story He used these words…

“It is written…

It is written….

It is written….”     Matthew 4: 4, 7 and 10

We definitely do not understand ALL of God’s Word, which is why we study.

We most assuredly do not always apply it correctly, which is why we practice the disciplines and remain in fellowship with other followers to work that out.

But the shifting sand where we pick and choose out of Scripture the things we will believe and the things we will disregard is no place for any Christ-follower to stand.

May God bless us with a deeper love for Him through the reading of His Word. May He grant us understanding and obedient hearts on which His Word can be engraved. Because surely we, who follow Christ, are now engraved on His <3

 

Working it out <3

Yesterday I pulled up at a four way stop about the same time as another car to my left. Per courtesy, I paused to see if the other vehicle was going to go or wait or wave me on or whatever.

It was evident the driver was actively thinking through those options as the car jerked a little forward in inches and abrupt braking.

Even though he had his right turn signal on and I was going straight I decided it prudent to remain stationary until this car made its final move.

I waved an indication that he should proceed and breathed a prayer of thanks I had waited since he lurched forward, changing his turn signal to the left and taking a wide patch of the all lanes to head up the direction I would be going.

And of course his bumper was tattooed with those words we all love to see on a car … Student Driver.

I thought of that poor instructor hunched down in the seat next to him and threw up a few prayers for that guy as well.

It occurred to me that in a matter of weeks, this kid will most likely be handed a license and put in an unmarked car to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world of roads and highways.

Anywhere he wants to go, he will have the right to go if he fulfills all the obligations of acquiring his certificate to drive.

But it will be years of learning and applying the rules of the road before he is a good driver.

Hopefully.

It will take close calls and near misses and direct hits before he begins to apply and understand the knowledge that instructor is trying to instill as they traverse the highways and byways of our county in these days of training.

I take a wild leap of analogy here because Christianity is NOT a driving school-to-earn-a-license thing to follow, but a relationship with a Savior that bought us back from a death penalty we deserved so that we could follow HIM kind of deal

…however…

go with me please.

When we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are immediately transferred from lost to saved/death to life/condemned to redeemed.

But we will spend the rest of whatever days we have on planet earth working out….

WORKING out (laboring…striving…WORKING it out with blood sweat and tears!)

…our salvation…

with fear and trembling.

Because we will have near misses and crashes and wanderings.

We will have questions about applications of the teachings of Christ and God’s story and plan for His people found in Scriptures.

We will journey amongst fellow believers of varied understandings of how this walk is supposed to be lived out.

We will also travel alongside many who could care less about what has become central to our lives and many who devoutly hold to their own Rules of the Road teachings.

I have been exploring some thoughts about this faith life lived in community on the blog this week. As I have listened to different teachings and sermons this week, I hear a similar theme.

We are called to navigate this working out of our own salvation amongst those IN the Body and those who want nothing to do with the Body that we are commissioned to share the Gospel with.

Did I mention this involves ….WORK?

These are times of great confusion and upheaval.

But also times of GREAT opportunity <3

I urge you, as fellow travelers who love the LORD Jesus Christ, to LIVE the GOSPEL.

We have been given the gift of salvation through Grace and while we certainly do not live it out perfectly, do not grow weary in sharing the HOPE that is in Jesus Christ.

Prayerfully ask God for opportunities to share the Gospel…even if you do not feel qualified…you are.

Don’t take my word, though…take His <3

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:

bearing fruit in every good work,

growing in the knowledge of God,

being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,

and giving joyful thanks
to the Father, who has qualified you

to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:8 -14 NIV

So…see you down the road <3

And another thing….

As I continue to try and put down in type the thoughts swirling around in my head this week regarding the Body of Christ, I listened to such a wonderful sermon yesterday about the “inclusiveness” of the Cross.

Here it is (and link below as well if this doesn’t work…because me and technology..you know) :

http://grace360.org/th_gallery/colossians-focus/    March 19 Jesus the Reconciler <3

All are welcome to the grace and mercy of God .

And yet the exclusiveness of the Cross is this.

It is only for those who will receive and believe.

This warmth I shared about the Body on Monday is often criticized as judgmental and yes, sometimes we in the Church come across that way but can I let you in on a little secret?

At least for me, when I found freedom in Christ, I took on His mission AND in the process of being transformed I took on His heart.

So yes…He loves me…and He loves everyone.

But I understand down deep in my spirit that, while yes, salvation is about God so loving the whole world that He gave His only Son; it doesn’t stop there.

There is a response that has to happen… we have to RECEIVE this.

And in order to NEED salvation, people have to acknowledge that they have a sin problem.

So when the world and sometimes church people act like we can’t talk about sin because we might offend someone…yeah…I get a little passionate.

And when, political correctness attempts to quench the Holy Spirit by affirming people in their sin to protect their precious identity, I get downright panicky.

It’s not that I am judging other people’s sin.

It’s that I fear in my soul that somehow they will miss conviction.

Those are the times I want to be like Maria in The Sound of Music and run back into the convent. I want to shut the doors on the world and just embrace the holiness of the inside of that Church Body I love so much.

But God won’t have it.

He is a pursuing God…the radaph of God burns deep in our bones when we belong to Him.

We pace the crest of the hill, with Him, scanning the horizon for the prodigal.

We love the rich young ruler, with Him, watching sadly as the man who has everything reluctantly grabs his bank account and walks away from the One Thing that would have given him the eternal life he longed for.

We extend dignity, in His Name, to the woman at the well  who seems to need more than her fair share of second chances to get it right.

We weep, with Him, over those who are consumed with the Pharisee spirit…even if they are disguised as liberal and conservative law makers who are trying to force the traditions of man on a deceived public.

We are His hands and feet and we are His reputation.

We learn His ways in His word and then we walk them out.

We stumble…and we grab that Hand that is ever extended.

It was GRACE that saved us and so yes, we extend GRACE…

but always IN TRUTH…WITH LOVE….

It’s a hard road we walk, but we do not walk it alone.

He is always…always…always…in ALL OUR WAYS…

with us <3

*The sermon is on www.grace360.org  Go to “sermons” and this one is under “Colossians” dated March 19, 2017. This is a great series so I recommend all of them <3 

 

 

That thing God does with me <3

Well I have some more to say as follow up on yesterday’s thoughts and you can look forward to those tomorrow. And maybe Thursday…we shall see.

But today I have to stop and attempt to share this crazy way God has of speaking in themes.

First I need to share a little background on how most of these posts are written.

On very, very…oh so very…rare occasions…inspiration comes a day or two in advance and I get to write a nice, well-thought out and edited post for you to read.

Those days, and I could count them using just both hands in the three and a half years I have been doing this blog, I get to post the night before.

I go to bed with this wonderful sense of peace knowing it will be on the internet…all complete with pictures and such…at 6:30 A.M.

The rest of the time, goes much like today…

with me going to sleep, waking up, doing my quiet time…

with a prayer stewing on the back burner of my mind that goes something like…

“What did You want to say through me today, Lord? And anytime You want to let me know would be really good.”

It usually has something to do with thoughts that have been swirling around for a while.

And that is how yesterday’s post came about.

So I pray, God brings something to the front of the mess that is my mind…

I listen…type…find pictures…and voila…

you and I have a little God-chat and hopefully it speaks to someone.

I even have to pray for the title because those are hardest of all to write.

So yesterday when it all came together and I got it down and posted – which is basically like going through labor and delivery with my mind – I prayed it made sense and moved on with the day.

Later I was able to catch up on the second to the last video for the Entrusted study by Beth Moore.

Our women’s ministry did it at church a session or more ago, but I am doing on my own with a friend.

I sat there with my mouth hanging open as Beth talked about…yes…many of the same things I had written hours before.

When she even used the very expression “rubbing elbows” with fellow Christians, I was flooded with several thoughts all at once.

My mind covered everything from “Oh my gosh LORD…I hope no one thinks I plagiarized Beth MOOOOOORE for crying out loud!!”…

to…

“Wow God…you have a W.O.R.D. for us about the Church!”

He speaks in themes.

What are you hearing Him repeat to you today?

May we have ears to hear His messages, delivered through many sources and may we apply His Words in truth and love.

Looking forward to what He has for us tomorrow…until then…be blessed and keep your eyes and ears open for His Word to you <3