I keep coming back

As I sat in church this morning and sang with the congregation about His Amazing Grace and the Doxology I found myself washed over by the truth that the Cross is where I return. My whole belief system, my value, my worth, my hope, is all wrapped up in the redemptive love Jesus showed through His death and resurrection.

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My heart fills and my eyes overflow with tears every time I think of this amazing, glorious Grace that God has given me. Ephesians 1 explains this incredible Grace in this way. God loved us before we were ever here and it is this love that draws Him to lavishly pour it out on us through His Son, Jesus. (See Ephesians 1:6).

We can chose to believe in God’s love for us, enough to be saved or we can chose to believe in God’s love for us as a new way to live life. The way I see people, the way I see myself is through this second lens of Grace.

One of my favorite hymns is In Christ Alone. I think the words explain it best. I hope they encourage you as well.

In Christ Alone.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Lyrics by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty

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Leaders

My sons are on their high school cross country team. The coach is a man of Faith and all the students greatly respect him.

The students know that Coach cares more about them than any record they could make or break. He challenges the students to make wise choices in every area of life. Even when their grades aren’t the greatest, he will remind them that their ultimate goal is doing their personal best, and how to keep that goal in sight.

Today the team is running a “Combat Run” with Coach at the lead. The team is following him, no matter where he leads them on the course. On the trail, off the trail, through creeks and mud, wherever he leads them, they follow. They have seen him live his life with integrity and the team knows he is worth following.

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Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” (See John 10). Just like the cross country team follows their coach, we as believers follow Christ.

Who are you following? Is the person leading you toward your ultimate goal line or leading you astray?

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As for me

One of the hardest things about chosing to walk worthy (Colossians 1:10) is chosing to forgive when you are wronged.  It may be a stranger who wrongs you, other times we find ourselves wronged by friends or loved ones.  Somehow this pain is harder to bear and forgive. A stranger doesn’t know you, doesn’t know your story, your weaknesses or your strengths.  But a friend or a family member– they know you intimately.  They know what movies you like, how you eat your pizza, they know your fears and your joys.  How could they hurt you?

As a result of our move out-of-state I have had dear ones who I value and love, speak hurtful words to me and about my family.  They have been some of the deepest cuts I have felt.  How can I chose to go forward in our relationship after that kind of injury?  Much of my spirit says, “Nope.  You blew it.  I don’t trust you anymore and I won’t let you into my life and my heart anymore.”

Then I think about Jesus.

Jesus came to love and live for all of humanity.  He loved his disciples dearly and He shared some of His most intimate moments this side of heaven with them.  Yet, they betrayed Him.  Peter denied Him, Judas turned Him into the Pharisees and other leaders.  The other disciples abandoned Him at His most crucial point of need.

And Jesus forgave them.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”  is how Jesus handled His betrayal.  He forgave them.  If Jesus forgave the people who put Him to death, I think I can swallow my pride and forgive those who have hurt me.

As for me, I will chose forgiveness.  Even when it is hard. Even when “they don’t deserve forgiveness.”  If Jesus did it and I say I want to follow Him, I need to do it too.

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Tattoos

Tattoos are pieces of art you wear on your body. It could be an image or a symbol of a loved one who has passed away, or a design that reminds you of a major event in your life. A tattoo could even be a quote from a favorite movie or novel. Whichever reason you chose to get a tattoo, it will be a constant reminder of who you were and where you were when you got it.

My husband and I each have tattoos that are symbolic of our personal faith journeys. Our decision to get a tattoo was not flippant; we knew that when we had the ink applied it would be there until we died. I started thinking about the other marks I had on my body. I have scars from cuts and scrapes, minor burns, and stitches. But, do I have the marks on me from where Jesus impacted my life? If someone were to see me, would they also see the fingerprints of God on me?

The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized I need to work on the image I have– not the one that society may say is acceptable or not. The one that says “I belong to God.”

There is a quote often associated with St. Francis of Assisi, ” Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.” It is this idea of living out loud the love of God, showing it in my day-to-day actions, like a visible tattoo for all to see, that is my heart. I don’t do it well, I certainly don’t do it perfectly, but I do pray that it is seen by others. May they in turn, live out loud their faith, pointing others to the incredible God they follow.

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There’ll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
Where mercy leads

Let Mercy Lead
by Rich Mullins

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overwhelmed or overcoming

My heart is heavy.  I am at a loss for words and I am too far away to hold the person I care about as they face disappointment and heartbreak.  I can send a text, leave a voicemail or post to their Facebook page that I am praying for them, but somehow it isn’t enough.

Dear friends called this week to say that the wife had miscarried.  I felt so powerless.  I could imagine their heartache as they mourned the loss of a little one they would never meet, never watch smile, never see grow up.  I wanted to go to their home, to sit with them while they cried, to listen while they talked.  To be there with them.  All I could do was send them a brief text message that said, Praying.

I read my Facebook news feed and see posts about friends who struggle with their illnesses and diagnoses and know that I cannot “fix” them, I cannot heal them, I can just offer prayers and words of encouragement as they face their futures, however long those futures may be.

I am overwhelmed with sadness.

Yet, I am not overtaken.  Somewhere in all of my sadness, I have hope.  I know that there are no words to replace the loss my friends are experiencing, the pain my friend has each day as she struggles with fibromyalgia, or my mom has as she wrestles with rheumatoid arthritis.  I know that my God, the One who holds the future, holds these precious people in His hand, close to His heart, as they hurt, cry, yell, and sometimes wimper in their pain.

Romans 5 begins with a powerful perspective on pain and suffering.  I in no way mean it as a flippant response to the pain my dear ones feel, but instead I know that they understand the truth of what God promises.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Our world, this side of Heaven, will always be overwhelming.  The enemy seems to win on every side, in nearly every arena.  But Scripture is clear, he will not win.  While the pain, loss, and sorrow seem to crash over us like waves over a storm-tossed boat, there is an anchor for us to hold onto.  Jesus.

My heart is heavy, but my soul is light.  I know that God is going to bring all of my dear ones through these struggles.  He promises in Hebrews 13 to “never leave us or forsake us.”  He promises in Revelation that He will “wipe every tear from our eyes.”

I can be sad, but I will continue to hope because I know my God will provide whatever is needed.  Whether it’s peace here on this earth, or in Heaven.  And in that I will rest.

 

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Move

There are so many options in this world. We can choose to sit back or choose to get to work. Many of us can see a person and recognize whether they will be the person who works tirelessly to accomplish a task or ride the coat-tails of the hard worker and take the credit.

I was brought up with a strong work ethic. We were taught to work until we were done with a task and then completely clean up the tools, the area, and finally ourselves, when the task was done or it was too dark to continue.

Scripture talks about how we are to move, to act on, and to live out-loud the Gospel. We are to go and spread the Gospel (Matthew 28) to all the nations. We are told that we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to stay still, or to let others do the work God created us to do. We were created to move.

In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). It doesn’t say, “in Him we lounge about like vegetables, letting others do the work since it doesn’t really matter.”

Everyone matters to God. If they didn’t he wouldn’t have sent His Son to die for them (see my post Scandalous for more on this topic).

We need to decide, I need to decide, if those around us are worth the time, energy, and effort of sharing the most amazing story with them.

We need to MOVE. Time is short, Scripture says in James 4:14 “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” In other words, there is no time to waste.

Don’t wait until the time is right, or you are done with something you want to do before being a part of what God has planned. It’s time to move.

I dare you.

Do Something

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain

It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”

Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still

No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/matthew-west/do-something-lyrics/#27rKI11wOLRbyTBV.99

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Scandalous

When I reflect on the last two decades that I have been a believer, I am amazed at the depth of God’s love for me. I don’t deserve it and yet He gave it to me. That is the definition of grace actually. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary grace is defined as, “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

Jesus came to Earth for the specific purpose of paying our debt. The debt Adam and Eve’s sin required payment for by a blood sacrifice. It’s not pretty, it certainly isn’t something I want to dwell on. But that’s just it. Jesus said, “I’ll do it. I — who have never sinned– will pay the penalty with my own blood, so that all of humanity will have the opportunity to be cleansed and freed from the sins, the addictions, the hurt, the anger, the pain, all of it. I will give my life.

John 10:10 says, ” I have come that they may have life, life to the full” or “abundantly” depending on the translation. Jesus is so in love with us, we matter so much to Him. He doesn’t want us to have a life that is mediocre, a life that we “just get through.” He came that we may chose to have a wild life, a life unlike anything we could ask or imagine. We can have a life full of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. A life that encourages others to seek that same Joy-giver, Peace maker, Jail-breaker—Jesus.

That the God of the Universe, who spoke everything into being, but created man with His very hands, who loves us so much that His son died in our place– that He desires a relationship with me, with you, with everyone in the world– blows my mind. It’s scandalous.

This Grace that Jesus offers us through a relationship with Him when you really, truly, experience it, there are no words. Twenty-four years after I received it I still find myself overwhelmed to tears. How could this God love me so much?? Doesn’t He know all the mistakes I’ve made? The things I’ve done? The sins I’ve committed? The anger? The hate? The hurt I’ve caused? Doesn’t He know???

Scripture says, yes. “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). It says it all right there in Romans. God loved us first. He didn’t wait for us to love Him, or to become “perfect.” No, it says while we were messy, broken, ugly, nasty, shattered people He saw us as we could be, as we would be through his Son, and He loved us.

That is truly scandalous.

This Is Amazing Grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Chorus:
This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/phil-wickham/this-is-amazing-grace-lyrics/#UIxUEGFpZjjS2rl1.99

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

Read more: Chris Tomlin – Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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Treasures

I am not a shopper by nature; I don’t buy things on a whim– unless it’s chocolate. However, my weakness is thrift stores. I love the discovery of “old things” that someone else has discarded.

The world may have said that we should be discarded because we don’t measure up. We aren’t as pretty, we might have dings or scratches, we don’t fit in with the new “fashionable” things, so we are dumped off somewhere. Some of us are “unfriended” in our virtual social circles, others of us have been “unfriended” in real life. Still others of us have felt unwanted all of our lives, ignored or abandoned by those who were supposed to live us unconditionally.

Enter God.

God says, we matter to Him. We are loved by Him “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). He says we “are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God says we are so precious to Him that He bought us from the thrift store of this world with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus. God wants to guide us, love us, provide for us, and show us His love no matter what. (See Hosea 11:4).

It may be hard to believe but it’s true. God sees a treasure in you. He wants to take you off the shelves, wash you up, dust you off, and help you see the purpose He created in you. He loves you so much. So very, very much.

“Treasure Of You”

Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice
That heartsick look in your eyes
You hide it very well, but I’ve got the same disguise
I know from all you see around you
You feel worth a very small price
So plain and ordinary, but there’s a pearl inside

And if you look in the mirror in the light of the truth
You’ll see there’s really nothing you could say or do
To make you worth more to the One who made you

[Chorus]
Your are a treasure
Worth more than anything under the sun or the moon
God’s greatest treasure
Is the treasure of you

The rich man treasures gold and silver
The wise man, his knowledge of truth
Some will hold to memories and some will cling to youth
But the one who carved out the oceans
And painted the stars in the sky
You are His prized creation, the apple of His eye
There’s no one else in the world who could take your place
Just the thought of you brings a smile to His face
God loves you with amazing grace

[Chorus]

So take a look in the mirror in the light of the truth
Oh, yes it’s true
See there’s nothing more you can say or do
God loves the way He created you

[Chorus]

From the T to the R to the E to the A to the S to the U to the R to the E
God made everything and everything He made
More than anything He treasures you and me
Check in in the mirror in the light of the truth
There is nothing you will ever say and nothing you will do
The will ever make God care more than He does for the treasure

Lyrics by Geoff Moore and Steven Curtis Chapman

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where are you?

I have been reading a book by Christine Caine called, Can I Have and Do it All, Please? …Yes!  I have been challenged and encouraged by her no-nonsense style of writing as she explains how our lives can be full and complete when we have our lives centered on Christ.

As a wife and mother who works outside the home, my schedule can be overwhelming.  I want to give my husband all of my attention when he comes home from work.  I want to be available for my sons, who are in school and on a competitive sports team.  I am beginning a new job, so there is a learning curve I have to pick up.  In the home there are meals, dishes, laundry, etc. to accomplish each week.  And then there is my time serving at church.  Whew.

If I try to do this all on my own, I would be overwhelmed and exhausted.  If I seek Christ first, if I make my day about what Jesus desires for me, then my to-do list, my family and friends will fall into place.

Scripture is clear that this is true. When Adam and Eve spent time each day with the LORD in the Garden of Eden there was order, purpose, and peace.  As soon as Eve tried to take things into her own hands everything fell apart (see Genesis 3).  When Adam and Eve realized that they were naked they hid from God and the first event of Hide and Seek occurred (Genesis 3:8-10).

I don’t want to hide from God, I want Him to turn and see me at His side immediately.  I know from experience that my life will spin wildly out of control if I don’t focus on God, putting Him first, seeking Him in prayer each day.

Where are you?  Are you playing Hide and Seek, or are you seeking God?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

~Helen H. Lemmel

 

 

 

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Anchors

Today marks the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon here in the United States.  The days following the attack many were in shock, seeking answers, and looking for something to hang onto for safety.  Many turned to their loved ones, some turned to substances like alcohol, and others went to church.

Whenever tragedy strikes there is a spike in church attendance.  After Pearl Harbor was attacked in December of 1941 people went to church for comfort, insight, direction, and security.  The Sunday after the Columbine shootings, my church was at near capacity as we struggled with the loss of life and the confusion of the young men who committed the crime.

Throughout all of these tragic events the one thing that has proven true is the verse in Hebrews 6:19, 20a– ” We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”

Jesus is, was, and always will be, the Anchor we can hold to when the world blows and the storms come.  He is our “soul anchor” as Michael Card calls Him.  Throughout all of the troubles, the hurts, the loss, and confusion in this world one thing holds true– JESUS will never leave us, never forsake us “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?'”  (Heberews 13: 5, 6).

Where is your soul anchored?  Are you blown about by whatever happens around you or are you secured to the One who loves you and cares for you?

Soul Anchor by Michael Card
 
Though the wind is ragin all around
And even though the waves may rise

There’s a place of stillness in the storm
And you can find it if you will believe

It’s a soul anchor, Hold on to the hope
It is a soul anchor, Just hold on to your courage
Before we call, He answers us with hope

We are so sure of what we’re waiting for
And certain of the things we do not see
For we are told by the One who cannot lie
And in this hope is our security

It’s a soul anchor, Hold on to the hope
It is a soul anchor, Just hold on to your courage
Before we call, He answers us with hope

So hold fast, draw near / So hold fast, draw near
It’s a soul anchor
Hold onto the hope / It’s a soul anchor
Just hold on to your courage / Before we call He answers
us
Before we call He answers us

copyright <a href=”http://elyrics.net”>http://elyrics.net</a&gt;

 

 

 

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