You can do it.
Make it happen.
You’re the boss.
Lead the way.
Get ‘er done.
Life makes us more into commanders than surrenderers doesn’t it?
I have been thinking about this lately, because, sure, I pray to God, I ask him for help, I follow his lead, I read his Word and I go to church. But, how much of my life do I manage, manipulate and mangle rather than letting him mend, mold and make me holy?
In many ways, I step up to God to say, “You are my helper. Assistant. But, you are hardly my rescuer.”
Which translates to:
I’ll call on you in prayer God; you better pull though when I ask.
I have the day-to-day interactions covered, you handle the miracles.
I can figure my way out of the small; I will circle back on the big.
I am the boss of my office; I will call you, the assistant, if I get overwhelmed.
I will buzz you in if there are some things I really don’t want to do.
Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD. La. 3:40
I am a large part pride and, I entirely hate to say this, a small portion trust. I often think I can help myself better than God can help me. I run over God with the tread my dirt-laden wheels that head to reeking lands. My direction and intentions leave me with a flat tire and no way out.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help (including Kelly Balarie or [insert your name here]. Ps. 22:11
Trouble is always near. So is the devil; he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8
He sees our trouble.
He is acquainted with our adversary.
He knows our door out.
He knows his door in.
He calls us to it.
He pleads for us.
He advocates for us.
Will we call back to him?
Like a child with a breakage, knowing daddy will run to rescue?
Like a mother of a terminal one, knowing her great physician will save?
Like a distressed homeless one, knowing the benefactor has good?
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Ps. 55:2
He will handle our all as we hand over our all.
He loves our all, we need not be afraid of his all.
He brings us to his all as we seek his all.
There is under-the-table game you cannot see.
Its aim is to trick you, to train you and to teach you in ways other than Christ’s.
You think you are doing good,
because good you try to do,
but the only good you really do is for you. TRICKED.
You are too busy with life,
to find life in the Word. TRICKED.
You let people consume your time,
then you find no time with God. TRICKED.
You believe the more you control your world,
the more your world won’t batter you. TRICKED.
You believe your yesterday is at work to invalidate
the love God is showering on you today. TRICKED.
You believe that you can’t be forgiven,
for forgiveness could never cover the vast sea of your wrongs. TRICKED.
You believe that all joy, riches and happy days should follow Christians. TRICKED.
You seek knowing and loving the blessings over the blesser. TRICKED.
You are so much better than that other sinful man. TRICKED.
You cling, like a mother with a delinquent child, to avoidance and denial rather than crying out to your maker. TRICKED.
When we seek after rainbow, puppy dog and flower Christianity,
we end up loaded with cute things, but far from Jesus.
As a result, our heart holds bitterness and anger at the one who failed us. We see God as a failed Santa, rather than a gracious father. We see God as a punisher rather than a lover. We see God as an acquaintance, rather than a trusted confidante.
There are some hard lines to Christianity – and rather than tiptoe around them as if they don’t exist, sometimes, just sometimes, it is valuable to take a deep and hard look at them to say, “This is what I am called to and, heart, please follow through. God help me.”
5 Ways We Need to Get Real with Faith
– 1. As Jesus called the disciples to leave treasure behind,we must leave behind treasure that stands above the riches we find in Christ.
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Mt. 10:9-10
– 2. Expect to find unexpected persecution.
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22
– 3. If you can’t stand or speak in the face of pain, the Spirit will give you the words.
“At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Mt. 10:19-20
– 4. People will hate you.
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22
– 5. Standing firm in faith, means standing in joy in heaven.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Mt. 10:33
Dying to self, means coming alive to Christ.
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21
When we keep our eyes, not on the sleight of hand, but on the hand of God – we see that we can endure to the end with his help. We see that there are tricks, traps and talks set to deter us. We see we must “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves,” (Mt. 10:16) so that we can be sure that no one deceives us. (Mt. 24:4)
We get real about faith and we are equipped to really stand to the end.
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Isn’t this the same question the he’s asked since the beginning? These manipulative words attack Jesus’ identity when he is in the middle of the desert, hungry and exhausted. Matthew aptly refers to Satan in this passage as “the tempter.”
Although his angle varies, the father of lies loves to question. He makes us doubt what we believe and second-guess what we heard from the One who is the source of all things good and true.
“Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1)
If the foundation of our trust becomes shaky, then everything else will shake along with it. And no one knows this better than the one who’s been telling lies from the beginning.
As much as I would like to have a trumpet blast or an alarm to announce when the enemy of my soul is on the prowl, this isn’t how he works. His strongholds start in the mind, and once he builds his fortress there, actions follow suit.
Then calamity hits and I question the goodness of God. Just like the battle between good and evil in the wilderness all those years ago, God’s identity is in question.
Would a good God allow this? If God was really all-powerful, wouldn’t he do something about this?
Friends, this is exactly where darkness starts. And it only becomes darker and more hopeless once we question who God is.
I wish the struggle was different, but this is what we face day and day out, as we’re bombarded with news of people starving and terrorists performing unthinkable acts of evil. When we’re in the thick of health crisis and heartache with those closest to us, we fight to keep our thoughts from going to that place of doubt.
So what do we do? When the world, as the popular song puts it, is “going to hell in a hand-basket,” how do we keep our minds from going there too?
When I go back to the passage in Matthew where Jesus is being tempted, I love how he responds to Satan. Jesus knows this world contains nothing which will sustain us, not even food and water.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 NIV
We are a creation made not only of body, soul and mind, but spirit.
And that which is spiritual can’t be sustained by the material.
So today, as you’re gathering around the table and spending time with loved ones, I want you to remember that as good as that turkey tastes, there is a life source far greater. It can’t be neglected or shoved to the back burner.
His words aren’t just black and white on page or an item to check off our to-do list, but a never-ending spring of truth. When we come to him with humility and minds open to receive, he transforms our doubtful thinking and heavy-laden hearts into hearts filled with peace and hope.
There is a reason why scripture refers to Jesus as “the Word.” (John 1:1) The Word brings life and Jesus is life. It is a mystery interwoven into the fabric of our beings, and through it the Father speaks and reveals pieces of his greater plan.
The more time we spend in his presence, the more our questions become affirmations. The more we fill ourselves up with the Living Water which never runs dry, the more we can discern what is eternal and true.
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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
Last night, as I was booting down the day in prayer, I realized something. Something kind of significant. I figured what it said about me just as important as what I actually believed about prayer.
It struck me that while I often pray to stop worrying, I always pray mid-struggle – in the heat of a thought that has run haywire, like a wire with far too much current and no outlet. Now, I won’t say by that point it is too late, but I just wonder, why do I wait until that point, rather than getting out in front of it defensively?
Why don’t I build an action plan, a game plan and an attack
to beat down worry before it runs wild?
When we fail to prepare with big preemptive prayers, we prepare like paupers.
But, when we prepare in advance, not fearing to ask for massive deliverance,
God prepares our hearts in the unimaginable.
Why is it we are afraid to ask for the enormous, the unthinkable and the life-changing?
1. We are scared that our big God will only deliver us small answers and thereby disappoint us. 2. We feel guilty for not praying righteous prayers, so we pray empty prayers. 3. We wonder what we will end up believing about God, if we end up seeing him not come through. 4. We figure that we are somehow supposed to conquer, what God stands ready to.
Yet, Jesus, he teaches us to pray unrestrained, unbelievable and uncensored prayers. Let’s take a look.
10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed
1. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16
Getting alone gives our mind the white space it needs to conceptualize life-transforming spiritual needs.
2. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Mt 26:39
Jesus was not afraid to ask for big deliverance. Our big God can handle big prayers. In fact, he loves a heart that believes by faith he can do all things. Just ask it!
3. My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. Mt 26:42
Jesus knew God’s will takes precedence over earthly will. When we pray, we should let our heart convey needs, yet trust that God ultimately knows what we best need.
4. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mk. 1:35
Jesus knew that seeing God first in his day, sets the foundation of a day – in God. When we place our morning eyes on God, he gives our eyes sight on great strength in our day.
5. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Mt. 6:9
Jesus knew who he was talking to, do we? God tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous can run into it and are safe (Prov 18:10). Do we believe this?
6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:13
Praying to be delivered from what has not already hit, prevents your feet from getting swept out from under. Jesus teaches us to pray preemptively, and for good reason.
7. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Mt. 11:25-26
Jesus praised God for what man could easily find fault with. Praise God for the things you can’t understand. When we know that a good God is over our bad problems, we find calm waters.
8. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Lu. 22:32
Jesus knew the value in praying on behalf of faith. May we ask for more faith, so we can walk into the unseen with power, authority and courage, just like Jesus.
9. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. Jo. 17:9
Jesus prayed for his beloved children. Let’s pray that our heart, and the heart of all God’s children, will endure, stay pure and persevere together until the end, for this is God’s will for us.
10. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Lu. 23:34
Jesus forgave when he could have cursed the world for his breath labored pain and agony. He didn’t. Let’s forgive those who cause us pain and agony, for what we will find is that forgiveness is what ends up causing us far less pain in the long run.
It is our power. It is our strength. It is our direct connection to the greatest ruler of this earth. It is our cosmic shift from selfish plans to God’s plans. It is our ability to be an influencer, a pleader and a worker in a kingdom that counts. It is our ticket to our greatest needs being met in awe inspiring ways. It is our hope that confirms to our heart we have a hope. It is our peace that the creator is still creating. It is our power found in uplifted hands and in the quietness of a solitary room. It is our ability to call the Great Physician to a family member in need. It is our emergency exit door for what the devil has already cooked up to destroy us. It is our greatest weapon in a world that is building bigger and bigger weapons. It is our lifeline when we feel we have lost all life.
It was one of Jesus’ greatest tools,
shouldn’t it be ours too?
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Ever looked at your life and wondered how God was going to deal with “all this”?
Sometimes, our lives seem to mangle themselves up into intricate webs of complexity. Each string lays on top of the other in a jumble of difficulty, hardship and ugly.
And, if we don’t actually ask God this, we normally think:
God, can you really work through this? How can you untie everything wrapping against me? There are so many moving pieces, so many difficult people and so many heavy problems, do you care?
We look up, and we think, “How am I going to climb this barrier, this ridiculous tower of hardship and this likely-to-fall thing of pain?”
My son, looked up at his playground web in much the same way. It looked impossible for him to climb. He got to the middle of it, looked up and said, “I think I have gone far enough. I am not sure if I can go any higher.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mk. 9:23
I wonder if Jesus looked at his walk to Calvary Hill in much the same way?
Did he think “This is impossible? This is a mess I can’t get myself out of? Can God really get me through this?”
Somehow, I doubt it.
Jesus believed that the impossible, was the beginning of God’s possible. He knew that intricacies of life, are the proof point for the immaculacies of God.
He knew that deeply woven, meant deeply scalable by God.
Look at the intricacies Jesus climbed to make it to the pain-ridden and pain-freeing cross.
1. He had to defeat the powers of hell.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:15
2. He had to defeat his mind.
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. Lu. 22:42
3. He had to perfectly time things.
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Gal. 4:4
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Ro. 5:6
4. He had to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Is. 53:7
5. He had to take on the sins, the pain and the agony of the world.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. Jo. 1:22
6. He had to keeping humility, reliance on the plan and people coming at him in line.
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. Jo. 6:15
7. He had to deal with his dearly loved disciples abandoning him at his hour of need.
But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Mt. 26:56
But, still, what looked impossible, was possible.
Like the King he was, he did not stop halfway.
He didn’t give up in the garden of agony.
He didn’t stop on the road of tears, pain and mocking.
He didn’t bow down to the taunts and lures of Satan.
He climbed. He scaled. To ascended on high. To reach the fullness of God’s heights.
How do you need to keep moving as Jesus did?
Remember, what your eyes see – is not what God sees. What he sees is greatness, holiness, sanctification and peace in process. What he sees is his good ending from the painfully woven beginning. He sees his plan and he knows it is good.
Faith is what you cannot see. Belief is feet that keep moving when things keep getting harder. Hope is God’s imminent rescue for those lives that trust him.
Don’t give up.
Don’t back down.
There is a plan. He will bring you to his heights. Press on.
My son focused. He kept moving. With the son against him, as he always is, he kept climbing and forging. And guess what happened? He didn’t fall, waver or give up halfway, but he made it to the top.
Joy flooded him, smiles returned and a little “happy dance” in the sky occurred. He pulled through with God’s help.
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I go about my day, but sometimes my day goes about wrecking me. It goes about making me overwhelmed in a moment of frustration, angry at others, beaten by circumstances, discouraged by my actions and frustrated that I am not more of a “halo” Christian.
Ever felt this way?
When I come to think about it, I think it has much to do with what I am thinking about.
Because what we think, we live.
Are you listening to the conviction of the Spirit
or the condemnation of the devil?
10 Ways to Know:
1. The Spirit infuses love, the devil accuses with shame. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Ro. 8:16
2. God draws us near, the devil pushes us lonely into fear. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” Psalm 34:4
3. The Spirit hands out an invitation, the devil speaks accusations. The Spirit invites us to life-change and liberation while the devil invites us to death. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor. 3:1
4. The Spirit makes us new, the devil makes us dwell in the old. The Spirit works in the now, the devil reinforces yesterday. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor. 3:6
5. The Spirit speaks correction, the devil speaks destruction.
The Spirit reinforces the Word of Life, while the devil rips it apart, reworks it and denies it to suit his needs to destroy us. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. Jo. 16:8
6. The Spirit reveals, the devil steals. These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 1 Cor. 2:10
7. The devil pushes legalistic law, the Spirit pushes life-giving liberation.
If the devil can make you work hard to be loved, he will. The Spirit is always at work to confirm your position as child. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Ro. 8:15
8. The devil sends us on a parade of feelings, the Spirit sends us into a journey through God’s Word. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph. 6:17
9. The devil reminds us how bad we were, the Spirit reminds us of how secure and significant we will be as we turn back to God. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.Eph. 2:8
10. The Spirit brings self-denial, the devil encourages self-will, self-promotion and selfishness. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Gal. 2:20
The Spirit is a force of freedom, a revealer of God’s wisdom and an offerer of love, the devil comes simply to steal, kill and destroy. May we walk bad voices right out the door, so the peace of God may walk in. Then, our temples will shine Christ far and wide.
I knew where I needed to go and I was laser-focused on my goal. I was running hard, pushing with the endurance and perseverance that God calls for, until…
…until I hit a little snag in the road. Until I started to feel like all the goodness I had been orchestrating with God was anything but that. Like the project at hand was really going to be the project that lost.
I started to say things to myself like:
I am going to fail. No one really cares about this goal. My progress is short-lived. God won’t help me This is going to stink.
If I have learned one thing, over my small life-span as a Christian, it is this: When the red flags of doubt and discouragement start waving, we can be sure that we stand on the starting line of the devil. He loves to send us off on a race of futility.
Where do you stand?
Are you listening to his mumbles, messages and mixed up words of defeat or are you listening to God’s powerful words of “I am with you?”
10 Things The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Know
(and what God does)
1. You must fight to win in this thing called life. Work hard and do your best and some day you may be good enough.
Truth: You already have the victory in Christ Jesus. Step out and act like you believe it.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb… Rev. 12:11
2. You have no identity. Find it in other things: work, men, partying, affairs, perfectionism, etc. If you can’t find it, there’s another way-simply, numb the feelings with suppression of feelings, food, alcohol, and drugs.
Truth: Your security in Christ’s plan is more stable than the cross that Jesus died on.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. Gal. 2:20
3. You are not forgiven. That thing will mark you forever.
Truth: The second you repent, your sins fall off of you faster than you can say “I can’t forgive myself.” Your sins are moved as far as the east is from the west, to the depths of the sea, where they are counted no more and where there is no charge against you.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9
4. God doesn’t guide people like you.He abandons the poor and powerless on the curb of unloved.
Truth: Sinners are God’s greatest calling.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Lu. 5:32
5. It’s fine if you know God’s Word, but you can’t know God’s love.Then your heart may take flight and seek to live it in all you do. Can’t have that!
Truth: There is no fear in love. Find love, find faith. Find love, find peace. Find love, find grace.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13
6. It’s all about your needs. YOLO and FOMO rule!
You only live once (YOLO) so do whatever makes you feel good, no matter the cost.
Be fearful of missing out (FOMO). Overextend yourself so you can never overjoy your heart in the overflowing peace of God.
Truth: Moving at high speeds only serves to move us away from our first love.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Ps. 62:5
7. Walk by feelings, not by faith. Feelings make you feel good, so why not follow their leadings?
Truth: You can sidestep discouragement and despair by walking around feelings to solely stand on the rock of God’s promises. Believe only what God says about you and you will not be shaken.
The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. Deut. 32:4
8. Live in the past.Dwell on your pain, keep the band-aids of injured on, be angry, irritated and a hoarder of all the things and people that hurt you. Remember, so that you can live guarded, hardened and resistant to others.
Truth: Today is the only day we presently have. If we live in yesterday, we miss the gift of now, which is the only working ground for real life transformation.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Is. 43:18
9. Fear everything. Look at life as a catastrophe on the near verge of exploding death and to imploding your dreams. You will walk stifled and baffled at how you are getting nowhere. You will tread in the currents of failure and be no threat to me.
Truth: God is more with you than the hairs on your head.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6
10. God saved you for eternity, but he doesn’t save on earth. God is only good for getting you through the heavenly gates, then you are stuck exposed, crazy and delusional in this dank and dark world. Good luck out there. I am coming to get you.
Truth: He will run to arm you with the protection of his love.
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. Ps. 91:14-15
Stand bold. Stand firm. Stand on truth. God always holds all power. He loves us and is our greatest advocate.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20
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We stood at the toll being reprimanded by the officer, “You deserve a ticket!”
Just like I deserve a good whacking for yelling at my kids. Just like I deserve a talking to on how to do things right with my family. Just like I deserve to be punished for how my jealous heart of comparing surfaces.
Just as I, apparently, deserve two points for this offense. Man, I messed up again. Why can’t I just get things right?
“Pull on up and pull over to the side of the road. I will be with you in a minute.” We did. We pulled up and waited and prayed and hoped that the worst case scenario wouldn’t come true.
Our hearts pumping, our minds plotting, our hands rubbing, anxiety filled the car. The policeman sauntered up to our window, looked at us and said, “Go ahead. Move along.”
We got no ticket. We were freed.
What we deserved was passed off. The hand slap that should have come down on us was caught.
The frustration at our mistake, quickly dissipated. The weight of anxiety on our shoulders, was exchanged for praise – we were saved.
Grace saves every time. Not just to push us, deviants, into heaven, but to push us, deviants, into God’s hands moment by moment, interaction by interaction and thought by thought.Not embraced just on bad days, but also on good days. Not just according to repentance, but according to our daily living.
Knowing that no word spoken against you can overpower the truth
that you’re “blameless.”
Extending kindness to yourself because there is not one time Jesus wouldn’t.
Telling your children, “We all make mistakes. Mommy does too.”
Not tossing out that coloring drawing you did in front of your son
because you think it is ugly.
Speaking “peace” to a heart that is guilt-laden with the overwhelming feeling
it can’t do right.
Finding a way to condone a good action, rather than to condemn a bad one.
Letting your heart be encouraged by the idea that you are a work in progress,
not a work of failure.
Remembering that all beginnings of beauty,
have a starting point that is treasured by God.
Abiding through the bad, because, with Jesus,
you are always on the brink of his great.
Believing in God’s ability to save in the same way you tell others they should.
Being okay with not winning, because Jesus already has.
Understanding that Christ has won, this moment, right here, right now, for you.
Keeping your mouth shut, in the assurance that your sovereign God
will take care of things.
Speaking love when your first thought is to speak fire, annoyance,
frustration, criticism and condemnation.
Walking towards one that you desperately want to walk away from.
Embracing the one who has historically battle-wounded you
to the point where you feel crippled.
Believing God could actually love one who fails as much as you –
and as much as others have failed you.
Letting go of lingering shame and walking into the idea that grace fully “counts.” Forgiving your own heart even when it did the worst.
Finding hope in situations that appears hopeless.
Finding Jesus no matter what.
Finding praise as a result.
Breathing in love.
This is amazing grace. It is the weight of all the bad that everyone deserves, everyone earned and everyone should confined to. It is weight that sits dense, heavy, burdening. It is the weight, we love to sling around, hitting ourselves and others.
Yet, grace is the due burden that God decides should no longer be our burden.
So, I wonder, why do we walk around carrying it?
Take a moment, remember your most recent mess up. One that you really came down hard on yourself for. Can you see it?
Jesus also sees what you did.
He hands you the ticket envelope.
You look at it. You feel it. You hate it.
You messed up.
You did wrong.
You almost tuck it away, not wanting to really see what God has for you.
But, you don’t.
You open it.
Inside the envelope, you see it… Nothing.
There is no ticket there.
While you thought you were convicted,
Christ leaves you unafflicted.
While you figured you were done,
Jesus says you have only yet begun.
You walk with your fine, but Jesus says,
with me, you’re just fine.
Do you live this way? I often don’t.
But, I should because:
One who is uncharged, is unchained to shame. One who is unchained to shame, is the greatest player in God’s game. One who is in God’s game, is giving fame to his name.
One who gives all fame to his name, is the greatest threat to the devil.
They are kingdom-makers on earth.
They are peace-forgers in war-torn lands.
They are shame-healers to other’s pains.
They are heavenly-visionaries of Christ’s love.
They are the wonder, the awe and the thrill of all the grace always falling from the cross.
They are the magnets that draw in the bleeding, gasping and dying hearts just barely surviving the world.
They are looking to see how we handle what we call – amazing.
Are we capsules of his amazing grace,
ready to pour out his medicine,
or do we allow shame to close down the effectiveness of God’s grace?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9
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Fight for yourself.
Take care of your own.
Make a way for your ways.
It’s eat or be eaten.
Don’t let people take advantage of you.
No one understands.
Be number one.
Give it your all.
Do whatever you can to get ahead.
At all costs.
Make money and please self.
Be first in line.
Forge a way.
Only the strong survive.
This would be all fine and dandy, except God flips the script of the world on it’s ugly head to say:
1. In me and through me, you make up one body, with many parts. 1 Cor. 12:12
2. Your role on earth is to prepare people for good works of service, so that the body of Christ is built up until we all reach unity in the faith…attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Eph. 4:11-13
3. You belong to each other, each member forms one. Ro. 12:5
These words make us contend with a different vision of purpose. We have to take care of our family. Our united, although seemingly divided, unit that Christ has deemed worthy of all godly affection.
If God sees it that way, shouldn’t we?
So as one, we can move to become a different one, a loving one, a bonded one.
Not one fighting for one. But one many fighting for many.
Not one clawing and scratching to the top of the pack,
but one laying and paving a way for other to step into glory.
Not one finding pride in self-achievement,
but one seeing achievement being other’s progress too.
This makes me consider, am I a Spirit-keeper or a flesh-keeper?
A uniter or a divider?
Do I keep the bond of love, peace and togetherness glued by the Spirit
or do I keep the bond of my agenda, vision and plans that only make my eyes stick to myself?
A life sticking to vanity, is one wasting away in the mirror of carnal. It is staring at what will never come to be. It is relying on an image that will one day fade away to the glorious day where all join hands to sing, to resound and to clap–together–at the glory of the Lord.
…to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment–to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Eph. 1:10
God desires that we get a slice, a piece, a helping of this unity on earth too.
The question is, will we we take a bite believing it tastes good?
As we grab hands, we are grabbing the life we always thought we were fighting for. We find kindred hearts that understand our plight, so we can give a better fight. We will find encouragement, in the face of “despair.” Hope in the face of, “I can’t.” Life in the face of “struggle.”
We find family, not perfect family, but blessed family-in the name of Jesus Christ. Because, his body? He makes it work, move and run. It’s not by our perception of it’s effectiveness, but by his benediction of it’s power.
And, there we have it. We thought we were responsible for moving ourself, but God is ready to move a body in unison towards greatness.
I guess the question is-will we go? Do we trust him enough to allow others to help us?
We are better together. Can move farther together. Can beat resistance together. Can’t be broken together. Can’t go as wayward together. Will live united together, forever.
Why not start now?
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Do you really know it in a way that will guard you against the I-can’t-do-it moments?
I am beginning to know it in this way and it is making all the difference. I am beginning to see the small cracks in my armor.
I can’t do it. Crack.
I won’t succeed. Crack.
I am losing my abilities. Crack.
I won’t be blessed. Crack.
God’s calling is non-existent. Crack.
I have no purpose. Crack.
I will not be led, inspired, helped, released, forgiven. Crack.
I will never be good enough. Crack.
My deep crack was: I can’t write. God hasn’t called me to do this. He is no longer blessing my work. Underneath this crack, lived surface pressure: God won’t really be for you. He will leave you. Crack.
A crack is just enough for the devil’s foot to grab a hold of a heart.
A crack is just enough to forge a distance of space
between us and the God of our dreams.
A crack is just enough for a foothold of discouragement
to break down faithfulness.
A crack is just enough for him to start
ransacking our holy temples of God.
Which he loves to do. If he can penetrate a crack, he will perpetuate all problems. Days, turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and before you know it, the door to dejection is flung wide open. Suddenly, what you realize is that you are standing there vulnerable, naked, exposed and not sure where to run.
Unaddressed lies turn into a dressing of no protection that move us from armed by the power of truth to defeated by the cleverness of lies.
Make no mistake, the devil is a carnivore who delights in eating up anything resembling the temple of God. We don’t have to have four legs for him to take a bite of our flesh. We don’t have to be doing bad things to get chewed up and spit out by the one who hates us.
He wants to take our true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) and make it fake, deceitful, unfair, desecrated, horrible, vile and condemnation-worthy.
When our thoughts move to unholy, we become unholy.The second dirty hands leave an imprint, we grow shame at their touching. The second he raises uncertainty, we become certain that God doesn’t love us anymore.
This happened to me. But then I saw it. I saw what changes it all, the way of flipping my heart back into God’s goodness.
Here is what I saw:
1.) An alone, uncertain and unsure 3rd grader. One who for the life of her could not read or write with the other kids. One who knew she would never succeed. One who would never learn. One who couldn’t progress. It’s no wonder she stayed back that year, she was a loser of a writer. The only comfort she lived with, besides her thumb-sucking habits, was the idea that she would always fail.
2.) A grown woman at the will of an abusing woman. An abusive woman who would rip up time-intensive writing works with an air of “how could you?” An abusive woman who was a nightmare by day and literally a nightmare by night. An abusive woman whose degrading and demoralizing taunts still haunt. A woman who caused an eager-to please employee long-lasting defeat, pain and fear of future criticism because her voice still resounds today.
3.) The devil is one who doesn’t give cause to our small cause, but one who goes after our big, audacious and wild causes for the Lord. He is one who, from day 1, has been trying to savor and steal the blessing the Lord has been baking and preparing our whole life. He is the one who never wants the timer of “ready” to ring and resound.
What has the Lord been baking
that the devil is hungry to burn?
What central lie, from day 1,
has the devil pounded over you to ensure you crack?
For me, he wanted to burn my belief that I could write, so that I never could write for the Lord.
What is it for you? It has likely been happening from the days of old and he will continue it through days of new if you let him.
He wants us handicapped. He wants us crippled. He wants us unable to walk towards real purpose, real value and real transformation. Jesus wants us free, full and ready to say, “This is my body, take and eat.”
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jo. 10:10
Jesus enters into our life to bring life – always and everyday. But, beware, we are being sent you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore we must be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16). Are you this way?
This means, if we are standing firm, we must be careful that we don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12)! Are you ensuring your good standing before the Lord?
We must “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of (us) has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12) Are you turning away as you analyze and consume yourself in the small cracks of your armor?
The cracks we cannot see, we cannot repair.
If you don’t want the tectonic plates of your life to shift beyond repair, the time is now to shift your view on all you have believed to be true your entire life.