Friday, October 24, 2014

From Fear to Freedom






My son and my grandson have driven to North Dakota to go hunting.  It was about 25 hours.  We all were concerned for them but my husband and tried to talk them out of it.  My grandson said he heard you will not know if it is worth it unless you do it.  Hmmm.

How much in life have I not done because of fear of rejection or failure.  Someone said I may fall down but I may fly.

I was talking to a friend the other day.  Have you ever thought I know too much and know nothing at all.  I shared with my friend some things and knew I was risking rejection.  It was showing my self righteousness and judgmental attitude.  Usually I say only what I know is acceptable.  Forcing an appearance of happiness can be a sign of depression.  After I finished sharing with my friend I said, thank you for letting me be me.  We all want to be fully known and fully loved.  Tullian said true love is given not earned.  That is grace.  Do we full know the love of God for us and give this to others?

Some signs I know Gods love for me is I am not afraid to be honest and open about myself, my thoughts, and my heart.  This is where I am changed by being open.  To keep things inside is to cover myself and mask my real heart.  Satan loves this and the fear that keeps us in denial and untruth about our hearts.  This is where we learn to love.  With each other accepting each other as God accepts and loves and is pleased with us.

Another sign you know you are loved is you are a risk taker.  Just a few years ago I would sit for hours on my computer or just staring into space.  I was unattached to life and the people in it.  Slowly but surely as the gospel came into touch with my life and my hurts and unbelief, I began to live and love and enjoy life.  I use to be afraid to leave my house.  I could not stay gone but for an hour at a time and would regularly back out on commitments.  God has been stretch me more and more to focus on others and not myself.  C S Lewis said humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.  I have slowly began to not be so conscious and self examine myself and second guess myself but live free and carefree as a child.  My eyes are more on serving others and loving them and not so much what if I am rejected.  What if they find out who the real me is and they don't like me.  I have confessed this to some good friends and I can tell it is slowly changing from my selfishness, self absorbed to bringing God glory through living this life He has given me and loving others and enjoying and serving them.  This has been a slow process but it has been breaking the pattern of a life time of people pleasing instead of knowing He is pleased with me.  I have a long way to go but the chains I had are becoming more loose as I embrace my fallenness and frailty and accepting and loving others in theirs.  Yes it has been a life time but for the joy and peace of it all it has been worth it all.  The Father knows us more than we know ourselves and says you are mine and I delight in you my child.  I laugh more and smile more and worry less and trust Him more with the things that I cannot do anything about.  I even have learned how to dance in the rain as I did once when I was very sick.  But now I am well and look for the joy of the Lord in my everyday life and giving Him the glory for setting me free.  I realize I am going to mess up but it is through walking by the Spirit in love that the fears of failure subside and the dance begins.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Gift of Grace



Some days I wonder can I possibly understand the depths of grace.  I know in my heart of hearts that I am saved by grace but do I believe I am secure and protected in that grace.  Do I know that my sanctification is also by grace.  I wonder do I realize that my relationship with God is strictly based on the finished work of Christ for me not on what I do.  Some believe we move in and out of our relationship with God because He rejects us because we mess up or we don't do enough.  This is not further from the truth.  Gods relationship and His acceptance for me, even His blessings to me is because of Christ perfect obedience not mine.

How about my relationships in this life?  Do I think people will reject me if I don't do and say the right things?  Is my worth based on what people think of me instead of what God thinks of me?  Do I remember who I am in Christ not what others opinions are for me or against me?  Am I afraid to take my mask off with others because I fear their rejection?  Am I secure in the love of God for me and not the acceptance and approval of other?

This can even say does others thinking well of me make me think I have value and worth.  It is not a bad thing to compliment someone but these things about others and myself are temporal.  What is lasting in my identity in Christ and His work in and through me.  That is building one another up and encouraging another when we add the things and works of the Spirit in another person.  Therefore we don't boast in ourselves but in the Cross of Christ.  It is Jesus in and through us that we are to love each other.  We love because He first loved us.  Jesus gives us life, value and significance in this life.  It makes us who we are to be through the blessings, gifts, the development of the beauty of Christ in us.  We are to accept who God has created us to be in His image and realize we are His most prized creation.  We are dearly loved with a radical love that won't let us go.

The more we find life in Christ and know that He is all there is to our acceptance in God the more glory we give to Him.  The more we are satisfied in Him alone and realize that it is finished in Him.  The more we realize He who began a good work in us with be faithful to complete it.  That He is the author and finisher of our faith the more we trust in Him alone and not ourselves.

This is when we move forward or rest in peace with contentment and joy in humble confidence.  We approach the throne of grace with confidence not based on what we have done but on what Jesus has done for us, on our behalf.  We repent of our sins and go forth in faith, trusting in Christ and Him alone more and more.  The gospel does not get wider it gets deeper in our lives.  The truths we know and understand become more real and relevant day to day.  The cross becomes bigger and we live more in Jesus alone as the perfect sacrifice for us.  Claiming the victory that has been won for us and the inheritance and salvation that is ours.  We live life to the fullest and move out of our comfort zones and mask of false security.  When we trust in others for our worth it is a false gospel.  We are to remember the gospel daily and what Jesus has done for us through His life, death and resurrection.  We meditate and contemplate scripture that brings and points us to Jesus.  We pray it back to Him, says Scotty Smith quoting Jack Miller.  It is a personal relationship, claiming who Jesus is and who we are.  A giving of ourselves through dependence and surrender of our love and receiving all He has for us and living out of that through faith.  It is the gift of grace in real life and giving God only the glory for it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Getting better or trusting more.





I love sitting on my porch.  I am with Jesus and I reflect on life.  I love the lights small and bright.  It reminds me of the light within each of us.  The other night I began to think of an occasion when my dad was Jesus love to me and His grace.  I had gotten a speeding ticket and went to Danny.  I was in high school and Danny college at Alabama.  I said can you help me.  I have gotten a ticket and I don't want my dad to find out.  He will not be mad but he will be so disappointed in me.  He said sure.  The next day my dad said do you have something you want to tell me.  I was stunned.  How did he know  I said maybe something I should tell you but nothing I want to tell you.  He said are you alright Debs?  I said yes dad.  My dad was building inspector and the ladies at the court house had told him.  He always had a way of finding out what I did.  He said are you alright?  I said yes sir.  He said do you need anything.  Do you have it all taken care of.  I said yes dad.  He said I love you.  You always know you can tell me anything.

This instance made me think...do we get better or do we trust more?  My dad wanted me to trust His love for me.  He was not angry or disappointed.  He already knew the truth.  He was so for me.

We know we are becoming more like Jesus but does this mean we get better?  Most would say yes.  I want to share my thinking on this.  Our flesh does not get any better.  But we die to living out of the flesh and learn to live by the Spirit.  The Spirit of Jesus.  We allow Jesus to live His life through us more and more as we trust in Him and not ourselves.

The closer we get to the cross the more we see our depravity of our flesh and the more we see we need Jesus.  We are becoming more holy but not by getting the flesh to act better but to trust in Christ.  It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Jesus said you must be born again.  We are new creations in Christ.  With a new identity.  We are saints who sin but that sin does not define us.  We are identified with the death and resurrection of Christ.  We are redeemed.  We have a new heart and a mind like Christ.  We have His Spirit of Jesus and the Father and we are set apart and secure in Him.  We are righteous with His righteousness, totally loved and accepted.  Never forgotten but our sins are never remembered.  We are a child of the King.  It is believing it is Christ plus nothing and that we are who He says we are.  The way up is down.  It is a broken and contrite heart.  One that knows its desperate need for Jesus.  We have the beauty of Jesus.  A new heart and a mind like His.   We are defined by being in Christ, loved, accepted and forgiven, secure in Him.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

All or nothing...





Balance is a word that use to really irritate me.  I had heard we as Christians should be balanced.  My reasoning was you can try to find balance in your life without the Spirit.  But I have come to understand and see that the Spirit does bring balance into our lives.

I don't know about you but I tend to be a person of extreme.  Some call it perfectionism.  It is an all or nothing with me.  I will give it all I have until I burn out and then I just quit.

We are like the pendleton on a clock that hangs on a big tower for all to see.  The world can see it but we can't see it ourselves.  It takes the Spirit to show us we are doing things in our own strength.  We are depending on our own wisdom instead of that of the Lord.  We aim for perfectionism.  We do the very best we can and then we go to the extreme  the other way.  A few examples are...

We will try to help someone and keep on doing it and when they don't respond the way we want them to we quit.  We don't feel any emotions and then when we come out of denial that is all we are, is a big bag of emotional baggage.  We don't express any longings or needs and then when we see we have them we try to find them in everything this world can offer.  We try to win over someone who has mistreated us and when they don't respond we are full of unforgiveness.  We give it our best shot to make something work and when it doesn't we become cynical.  We say we just don't care.  We think something should happen and when it doesn't over a long period of time we give up hope and perseverance.  We love someone and when they don't love us back we withdraw our supposedly love and dislike them and again say "I don't care".  When someone doesn't appreciate all we do we stop doing it completely.  When life doesn't turn out like we hope after trying so hard, we get depressed.  We are enablers and when the person doesn't change we have nothing to do with them.  We can't hang in with the long haul.  We fail and we think we can't do anything right.  We pray and pray and when we think God doesn't answer we lose faith that He is good and He cares.  We think we need to know everything and then we see we know nothing.  We set out to achieve everything and then see it really means nothing.  We go from being controlled by others or another to being distant and putting up walls of protection.  If we can't do it perfectly we don't try.  Legalism to license.

The Spirit brings balance into our lives.  There is a balance to each one of these things.  I am sure you can think of more.  Jesus brings hope, forgiveness, love, prayers.  The only righteousness we truly have is in Christ.  We find life in dying.  Peace and joy in a messed up world.  We learn to love the unloveable.  We learn we are the loved unloveable.  We give up to find.  We lose to gain.  The Father meets all our needs and longings.  We find thankfulness and perseverance through suffering.  We find strength in weakness.  Blessedness to give.

So as we see we have gone to the extreme may we not go to the extreme the other way but let the Spirit guide us and lead us into life and life abundant.  The gospel is our answer.  Christ died for sinners.  Jesus is the answer to our imperfection and our unbalanced lives.