Judging – I am good at it

This is a fact of my life.  God’s children, me included, all around me, and I judge them.

I know Jesus has been judged for me.  I know that because I am in Christ, I will never be judged by God again.  I have been forgiven, and made right with God.  Jesus has taken everyone of my sins on himself, on His body on the cross. And yet, I judge others.  I stand from my place of self-righteousness and look down at others.  Jesus, talked about people like me, the Pharisee, the one who only saw others need for mercy but never themselves.  He also talked about the other man, the publican, the one who knew his need for mercy. This man, cried out, “have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Oh Jesus, Holy Spirit, Papa, show me my desperate need for mercy.  I know, I know, I know who you are in my head, and yet I continue to try to live out of my own self-sufficiency.  I think I know what to say to others, but what I really need is to listen to your compassionate voice to me.  I mostly speak out of my judgmental voice, and yet, I know that is not the voice that comes from you.  For you are gentle and meek, not tough and judgmental.

Through my sin of judgement last week, I was convicted but also reminded that you love me at the same time.  There was a sweetness of knowing how you saw me, that brought repentance.  And then a sharing of my judgement with another, that brought tears of freedom that as a child of God, I could bring my sin to you and to another.  Thank you for the gift of repentance.  It is your kindness to us.  Romans 2:4

So, again today, help me to see others like you see them, Jesus.  Remind me how you see me – fully loved, accepted, pardoned, wanted and free.  Free to be who you’ve created me to be, free to love others, free to be honest, free to live in this world, safe in your arms.

And yes, I know I will sin and need to repent and be given fresh mercies from my Abba.  That Jesus uses my sins to show me my  need for Him is a miracle indeed.

Holy Spirit, give me faith to believe you are who you say you are.  Help my unbelief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stories are to be told

I would like to tell stories of people and places and ordinary life, but life lived fully and freely with whatever God allows.  For all is grace, and if God isn’t in all of life, then He isn’t in any of life.  Doesn’t mean its all good or all bad, just that in the pain and the suffering, the joy and the laughter, God is there, He is working and He loves us.

I wrote that paragraph 3 plus years ago. And now, although I have wanted to write, and its always in my heart to do so, I really haven’t. Except for a brief 2 month period where I took a class and had assignments, I haven’t continued the process.  So after being encouraged again by my husband, my coach, today I begin again.

And beginning again for me, is just that, to start.  I will start with thoughts on the first paragraph above that I wrote years ago.  Do I believe what I wrote, do I live like a believe what I wrote?  Am I living my life fully and freely with whatever God is allowing?  I know that I am aware of a new freedom in living life that comes from a place of knowing I am deeply loved by the God of the universe. I am created in His image.  Knowing and believing God has compassion over me all the time, creates a space of freedom.

Gods  compassion, His delight over me, His nearness, His favor, His forgiveness, all of who He is, these are the benefits of being His beloved daughter.  And what have I done to deserve this?  Nothing.  What has Jesus done to give me this favor?  Everything!  Because I have believed in the work of Jesus on my behalf, I get everything, everything, everything!  1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God, for that is who we are.”

Sometimes I think, this is such good news, that I am loved constantly and totally by my Father, my Daddy, in heaven.  My behavior doesn’t earn this love, because Jesus’s behavior earned it for me.  I truly can’t lose it, even in the midst of my sinfulness. Yes, the worst sin we can consider, even then, because I am “in Christ” I am safe from condemnation by my Daddy.  As the song says, “I have a good, good, Father, thats who He is, thats who He is, and I am loved by Him, thats who I am, thats who I am.”

Gods ways are so very contradictory to our human ways of seeing and thinking and acting.  Isaiah says this so clearly, “Gods ways are not your ways, and God’s thoughts are not your thoughts.” So what I initially see or think about a situation, and then how I act based on those thoughts are going to be out of my fallen state as a sinner.  But because I have been given a new heart because of Jesus and my belief in Him, His Holy Spirit begins to show me Jesus’ perspective on my situations.  Everyday, Jesus I need you, to believe and trust in You!

 

 

 

 

 

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Will we raise our hands?

Recently, I heard a compelling story that I have not been able to forget.  The story is of a pastor who was visiting a rehab center for men with sexual addictions.  One of the residents was sharing his personal story and throughout his talk other men would randomly raise their hands.  When the speaker was finished, the director of the center, noticing the pastor seemed troubled, asked him what was wrong.  The pastor asked why the men kept raising their hands while the speaker was sharing, as if they wanted to ask a question.  The director replied that at the center there was one rule and it was that no one struggled alone.  So each time the speaker’s story mirrored the listener’s story they would raise a hand as if to say, “I know brother, I too struggle in the same way.”

So why does this speak to me?  Because the way I grew up and the church culture I am from it was more about pretending to be good and striving to be better than admitting that we sin and we struggle.  Instead of raising our hands we more often tried to help another come up to where we were because we thought we were in good shape, good people who were fine.  So pretending and posturing became standard operating procedure.  I believed my actions for Jesus were good and He probably liked having me on His team!  But what I am gratefully learning is that I don’t have to do anything for Jesus.  He has done EVERYTHING for me.  I can admit freely who I am and what I struggle with.

As a Southern, Christian woman and, on a side note, a preacher’s kid and have been a preacher’s wife, I all too well know and understand the church from the inside/out.  I’ve worked very hard to perfect, perform, and pretend to be a good Christian.  Guess what?  I’m not and neither are you.  Can we breathe a sigh of relief or maybe you are just a little ticked off that I said that.  I know this to be true of myself because when I thought I was good, I didn’t really need Jesus.  I was too focused on me getting better and what I could do for Him.  And to translate that even further, I wanted those around me to get better too. Imagine living with me, not fun.

In my struggle with my sin, with my fears, with my demands, with my control, with my need to be right, with my lack of grace, all of my messiness….this is the very place Jesus is meeting me.  In recent months, God is showing me more and more that I am a SINNER, and He came for sinners, all of us.  At the foot of the cross, we all stand on level ground, all the same, all needy, all desperate, no matter what we have done or will do.  Because I have called on Him and believe on Him, He is with me to help me.

Will we raise our hands with the controlling, manipulative wife, or the parent who needs their kids to make them look good, or to anger at people who don’t think like we do, or acting superior, or  hating another, or a million other ways?  Whatever we try to do to manage our lives apart from trust in Christ is never going to work, never going to satisfy us.  We were made for Someone greater.

Will we raise our hand and admit who we are, a sinner?  Will we raise our hands in praise to the God of the universe who loves, forgives, accepts and wants us?  Will we raise our hands because we know we struggle alongside one another and are in desperate need of His rescue every single day?  Will we be real and ask for help and be one who doesn’t let our brother or sister ever struggle alone?  Jesus, help us, for we need your sufficient grace to know that in our weakness, You are Strong.

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Where I’m From

I am from country boy and city girl

from preacher’s kid and “secret orders”

I am from the bottle brush tree in the front yard

I’m from climbing trees and riding my unicycle.

I’m from the church pew and the choir loft,

the Bible readings and bedtime prayers

I’m from “remember who you are” and “trust and obey”

I’m from camping trips and paddle boats,

from pancakes and spaghetti over the Coleman stove

and days where “heaven came down!”

I’m from Fannie Mae,

from strong coffee and crisp toast,

I’m from Proverbs 3 and “mercy”

and generosity and shopping trips

I’m from antiques and old pictures in my bedroom

and scripture memory on Thanksgiving.

I’m from family, past and present,

I’m from football and basketball and track and lacrosse and volleyball

I’m from my husband and children and their joys and sorrows

I’m from knowing whose I am,

I know the love of Christ, of family and friends

I know.

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Truth

Truth is, as a human living on this planet, I have been created in the image of God.
Truth is, I am loved, I am beautiful to God because He made me to be with Him.
Truth is I don’t live out of His love for me alot of the time. Instead I live out of trying to earn His love.
Truth is, pleasing people and wanting to look good, feeds my actions so often.
Truth is, I know I am free to live as one whose sins have been forgiven.
The Truth, the way, the life is Jesus.
Truth is simple, only have to believe that He is who He says He is. I believe the Truth.

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TREE

There are 3 trees that come to mind in significant ways for me.
The sycamore tree in our yard that I climbed again and again as a child. I climbed higher and higher and became braver with each step up.
The annual Christmas trees that came into our home, sometimes sprayed with a snow-like quality.
And the tree in Lousiville, Ky. on a fall day in 1988, where a fun-filled day was enjoyed by Chuck, Matt, Neil and myself. It was a cold, overcast day and we went for a picnic, played in the leaves, threw a football and climbed on some monkey bars. That was 25 years ago and I can still picture the tree, the boys in their sweat pants and hoodies, and just the simple joy of a family enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and being together. That tree reminds me of a special day!

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Grace

God,
That’s the beginning of grace.
He always initiates His kindness for us.
We are made in His image and dearly loved.
We can’t earn His grace, it comes to us.
Jesus, the God man, He is the embodiment of grace.
He has done what we could never do-
Our sin had to be paid for, He had no sin,
And yet, He took our sin and died our death.
Because He rose again and death has been defeated,
We can live.
We just have to do one thing, Believe in the One God has sent.
Because God sought after me, and loved me,
I believed, I received His grace for me.
A woman, ordinary, made in His image,
Beloved and graced by my Creator.
Grateful!

5 Minute Friday prompt – GRACE

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