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Archive for the ‘The Gospel’ Category

They breathe as one. She a fiery, red-headed gentile. He a tall, laughter-filled Jew. Together a love story. Together a picture of what it is to be loved by the Lord. Together. I cannot picture one without the other.

Neither will have volumes written about their many exploits. Nor will you find their names in a history book. They are common people. Everyday folks. Of the nameless mass that toils in the mundane. Common vessels that are known by the Father. Known by name and loved by the Almighty Creator of the Universe. His Plan. His delight. His instruments.

They play a unique duet. The melody haunting, beautiful, divine. It permeates this dark and dreary world with a supernatural tune that draws the heart beyond what is seen, and fans the yearning for something more. Light. Beauty. Profound simplicity. This duet sings of promise. They make beautiful music together. Together.

Oh how their music fills our hearts!

 

David & Cynthia, ambassadors for Christ

 

But God. Sovereignty. Providence.

For many years I watched them move through the world quietly, passionately. Each day they accepted what came from His hand as a means to bless, to serve, to love. Giving, ever giving until it hurt. Scars branded into their hearts. Yet each day they met the demands with assurance that their Father loved them, that they were walking ever closer to the prize. Each day I saw them yearn for others to join them in the race. The race that everyone wins, if they race to Christ. The Author. The Finisher. The Redeemer. Our Lover.

Yesterday was the first day living with the thought of one being without the other. One. One of them will finish the race and be at the Saviour’s feet. One of them will “fly to Jesus and live.” One will be left to play on. A solo.

Oh sweet sorrow.

They have run together for so very long. Each complimenting the other. Together a whole. When two common vessels love so deeply, each living for the joy of the other, we see the Father’s love for us. We know it is real. Sweet assurance.

But God. Oh Sovereign Father. Providence.

The song will change. The sound, still divine, will play a slightly different tune as it echos through the hole left in the heart. Still hauntingly beautiful. Still hearts will be drawn to the Father. One common vessel loved and loving. Singing a song of hope for the world in desperate need.

Hope.

And in the divine throne room one more common vessel, made uncommonly beautiful, will wait to welcome us home.

Update: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at the age of 52, our dear and precious brother entered glory. Heaven and earth rejoice through tears of great sorrow.

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Why me?

Throughout the night I was praying for friends with health or marriage struggles. When I woke later in the morning, I thought about those suffering in Asian slums or prisons. In sex-traffincing. Unlike the people in Psalm 103:3-5 they do not seem to have any kind of consideration from God. And then they die.

Deep Sorrow.

His answer? Psalm 100. Those who belong to Him can and will rejoice. There those that are His own. His alone. His own live in His presence even while on earth. His own taste joy. His own taste Him and rejoice in His goodness, love and faithfulness. The God of all calls even me His own. I am clothed in His righteousness. Are you?

It is bittersweet. I feed on green pastures. My Shepherd goes before me in His protection. My cup runneth over and forgiveness abounds in His mercy.

His grace.

In the other pastures I see desperate emaciated sheep who strive, grab and yearn just to survive. Some even seem to thrive with abundance for a time, but their price is a rotting tormented death.

Separation from God forever.

While I (and you?), I who was His enemy am now forgiven and free. I who fail daily , I who wander and wander, I live in His abundant love and imminence. I live…

Fully

Freely

Loved.

In a sad and dark world I live purely for the Lord’s glory… with gladness. I live to woo others to His love. I live to serve.

I cannot fix everything. I cannot free everyone, but I can reach out to one. At a time.

What is your purpose?

Why are you here?

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Pre-Praise

My Father seeks to teach me of His great and faithful love and delight in me.

In you.

By adversity.

Confounding?

I think He wants to teach us to “pre-praise.” Adversity teaches us about His heart of faithfulness, but also about the idols (desires and expectations demanded) in our own hearts that need to be purged. It is good.

As we slip down the slope into a pit, in the midst of the No Matter Whats, the Lord asks us to praise Him anyway.

Who He is.

What He has done.

What He will do.

I see this as “pre-praise.” An acknowledgement that He is and He will. Its easy to praise Him when He has, but I believe He wants to teach us to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving when it is still- He will.

Search your heart. When you look deep inside what is there?

He might?

Or…

He will?

All praise and glory to the Father Who will… and Who has.

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Are you too fat? Too thin? I have friends who are, but they think they are fat (which makes me obese). Hair falling out and reappearing in odd places? Talk too much? Too little? What is wrong with you? You know SOMETHING is….

Do you spend a lot of time and energy concerned about temporary and truly unimportant things that you are sure define you? Mix in there the deep desire to bear fruit that lasts, and you have a less than desirable result that can leave you weary.

Here is where I am supposed to insert something sugary like- But we are Beautiful, Sister! Wonderfully made!

Can’t do it. Won’t do it. I know I am fallible. I bet you are too.

If we don’t continually remind ourselves of how He has chosen, renamed, and remade us, the struggle to grow in Christian character will become nothing more than another attempt at self-improvement, and self-improvement always results in self-loathing or pride. (Elyse)

Always.

We are dependent. We rely on the God of the universe. The Great I Am. We have to be reminded that the One who created us, who loves us and has the authority to name us, has already told us who we are, what we need, and where we’re going. He has determined our individuality, our place of belonging, our purpose, and our permanence. He has answered our fallibility. The problem of our ongoing fallibility and failure has been answered in the Gospel. We are, each one, more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, but more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope. (Elyse)

So today and tomorrow, despite you, you are in the Father’s favor. You are His gift to His Son. His delight. Sealed by His Spirit.

We are on a journey of faith and repentance- by Christ and for Christ. This truly can be a journey of joy, peace, hope- through faith in Christ.

Walk on.

FYI- I am quoting Elyse Fitzpatrick (Because He Loves Me) with abandon. Assume much of what you read in these posts- especially the really good stuff- is from what the Lord has taught her. Thank you, Elyse.

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Are you so nearsighted that you cannot bear fruit? Have you forgotten that you are cleansed from your former sins?

Sheesh, my entire post was just deleted. I cannot retrieve it. Hm. I suppose the Lord has something else to teach me and I shall begin anew.

Who are you? What makes you… you? Is it your heritage? Hair color? Weight? Your career? Your ministry? You get the point. Well, do you get the point? Have you forgotten? You are cleansed. You are His. He loves you, and He defines you. Jesus lived the perfect life for you. And you, a horrible sinner, an enemy of God, are forever free, loved and saved from the endless pursuit of happiness. You have the righteousness of Christ imputed to your soul.

There is peace, hope, purpose to your every breath and every step on the path of life.

Previously there was a disconnect between my stated beliefs- my identity that I am one who’s been loved immeasurable by God, and am one with Him- and my practical beliefs- my identity and self-worth are determined by whether I look a certain way, am popular, respected, successful. I had willfully consumed the intoxicating wisdom of the world, rather than be filled with the Spirit.

I knew He was disappointed in me.

Frustrated. Again.

I thought.

Guilt is a lie from the pit of hell. Isn’t that wonderful?! You are free. Free! I know you are a miserable sinner, but I also know that you are a new creation. New. That’s not my definition of you. Its His view of you. You are His and He Loves You. How does it look in every day life? How does His fruit grow?

Faith- if we only see our record of failure, and we don’t apprehend God’s love for us, then though we know we should try to do better, we won’t believe we truly can change. We feel deserted rather than seeing our Captain leading us on.

Virtue (moral excellence)- will grow in direct proportion to our appreciation of the fact that we’ve been cleansed, forgiven and loved which empowers our desire to make the Gospel glorious before the eyes of a watching world.

Knowledge- we won’t be afraid to boldly approach Him. He’ll be our delight. We’ll know His love and it will make us strong.

Self-control- is easier as our particular idols lose their power to entice, and loving obedience is easier to One Who loves us so!

Steadfastness- grows as we rest in His steadfast love for us, especially in trials and temptations. We’ll not give up as we see His nail-scarred hands and thorn-pierced brow making intercession for us that our faith not fail.

Godliness- we will want to be like the One Who has loved us so. We yearn to bring Him delight, He who has cleansed us and set us free.

Affection- we’ll see others as people who’ve been loved in the same way. Our ambition, selfishness and impatience will be swallowed up in humble amazement that He has loved us so much, that He suffered so for us. We’ll gladly welcome and serve all those whom our Father loves.

Be encouraged on this journey. Though you struggle and fail, you have been cleansed by Jesus’ blood- His FINISHED work on your behalf. And HE guarantees our ultimate transformation into His image.

Run to Him.

Behold Him.

And be encouraged.

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FYI- I am quoting Elyse Fitzpatrick (Because He Loves Me) with abandon. Assume much of what you read in these posts- especially the really good stuff- is from what the Lord has taught her. Thank you, Elyse.

As I begin this study, what is my hope? What is my expectation? I want to know Christ. I want to be so in love with Him that nothing on this earth can compare, not the pleasant things, nor those which distract and tempt to discontentment. I want to know the power of His love for me that leads one to rejoice and to hope. In Him. Then in this blessed freedom and hope I want to be His messenger to others. An instrument of His righteousness to a dark and hurting world. To be transformed into His image so to reflect Him, truly.

Question: “If we’re not completely convinced that His love is ours, right now, fully and unalterably ours, we’ll hide in the shadows, be focused on our performance, fearing His wrath”? Do you agree? How often do you think about God’s love for you as demonstrated in the Gospel? My answer: Agree. At least for me. For a very long time I was sure I was vacillating between His favor and His disappointment. Based on my thoughts and actions.

“Works driven, results oriented Christianity” (my quote) is rampant in the USA. We are so focused on our own selves (heart-examination, fruit-patrol) that we ignore the very One Who did it all for us, already. God does it all. Jesus finished the work. I am already loved and righteous. Because He Loves Me. Not because I am faithful, but because the One Who began it all is faithful to complete it. Responsibility is a response to something (my quote). A response to His love and His finished work for me, His enemy now loved.

Elyse’s premise for this book is that many of us are so focused on living the Christian life, we’ve left Jesus behind. Agree? I do. It fit my walk these first 40 years. I read Scriptures with a focus on myself, and my responsibilities. I knew it was about Jesus, before salvation and in eternity, but the here and now was about ME. MY FRUIT, MY HEART, MY WALK. Sigh. All about me.

Then when I failed Him, again, and again, it was all about how I let Him down, again. Where was Jesus in all this? What about His finished work? Why did God love me anyway? Ugh, if I heard that my good deeds were filthy rags one more time, I was gonna scream! What was the point anyway? It seemed as though even my obedience was an offense to Him. Even that. What hopelessness. No wonder I struggled to ever have joy. Lasting joy that overflowed? No way, sister. Not me. But I knew I was supposed to. Failure again.

God loves me and He loves you. God loves us right now. Jesus lived perfectly for us and already paid the price for all our sins- past, present, future. He commands a pursuit of sanctification, confession and repentance, but not to gain favor lost after each sin (known and unknown!), not to gain merit. For by grace (unmerited favor) are you saved, not by works lest any man boast. Boast with confidence and great joy, sister, but boast in Christ! For it is finished and His perspective of me is one of unchanging love. It does not change based on my thoughts and actions, for it is rooted in Christ. He Himself is our peace. Praise God. What hope!

Do you think these promises, this love and hope are for someday? For eternity? What about today when ______ ticks you off, again? What about when you open your mouth in gossip, again? What about when you look with frustration on ______ again? Do these define you? Do these set the tone? Do these things rule your heart? Do they distract you from the glory to come and even that is… in Him, by Him, for Him?

Rest.

Rejoice.

It is finished.

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It isn’t as though I have never read all the words in the Scriptures.

I have. Many times.

It isn’t as though I heard something startlingly new.

I did not.

But God has opened my eyes to SEE anew. I see everything differently, and I read the Scriptures differently. Suddenly I see that it is all about Jesus Christ.

I would have said it was, before, but I did not get it. I had blurry vision. I was nearsighted. Everything high, lifted up and eternal was blurry. Its like I was driving without my contacts. I could see where I was going… the final destination up ahead, but everything along the way blurred by. The signs were difficult to read, the faces in the cars passing by looked menacing. Nothing was beautiful. There was no where to focus. There was no way to focus.

And I was the leader. Well, the stumbling block. Sigh.

But I could not SEE!

Ignorance is NOT bliss.

I promise I even get Amazing Grace now.

Disclaimer: I do not get it, get it. I am still trying to focus these set-in-their-ways eyes that are a bit hurt by the Sonlight in this clearer view. I am still trying to articulate what He is teaching me about Himself.

But I rejoice. I REJOICE with a new hope. And I press forward with a new strength. Ironically it stems from the Ancient Who is NOT new. He is unchanging- what was, is and is to come. Nothing new, just newly applied to my heart. Oh the joy. The relief.

Are you interested in Joy? Relief? Hope? Strength?

I know it was a constant prayer request for me. I yearned for fruit of righteousness and to count all loss but KNOWING Christ. I prayed. I strove. I failed. I yearned and stove some more. Sometimes I even had a moment of success, but then pride crept in and once again I only had decaying flesh to put on the altar. Oh to be free, forgiven, loved.

Instead I would end up at the foot of the throne, flawed… fatally, again. And Again.

But God, in His unfathomable love for me put something else on the altar. He put His perfect Son. His sinless Son Who never failed. His perfect Son Who sees clearly… right into the depths of my heart, your heart. His Son He put on the altar as the Perfect Lamb to take away my sins. And yours. Knowing every single one of my sins (intentional and unintentional) before I was even knit together in my mother’s womb. Before.

For me He died. For me He lives. And everlasting life and [love] He freely gives.

So, I’m confused. I am fatally flawed, but I am loved. He does not look on me in disdain or even disappointment. Ever. Because He Loves Me. Because of Jesus Christ.

So now what? Join me on the journey and be loved.

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