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Are You Stuck?

Are you stuck?-2
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Help! I’m Stuck!

I did one of my bucket list items when I was 19 years old. I jumped out of a plane with a parachute. After a week of training in Oakland, California, I was ready for my jump. I had no idea that I was going to get stuck in the mud!

Without thinking, I walked through the mud before boarding the little Cessna. I kneeled at the open door during the short flight. Then came the signal to go perch on the wing. I got in position but slipped a little as my boots were muddy. (Do you feel a little fear as you read this?)

Then came the final signal. I pushed off and jumped! My ripcord was connected to the plane with a long cord. My parachute was pulled open when I reached a certain distance from the aircraft. What a scary thrill! The few seconds of free fall were…. Well, you have to add this to your bucket list.

I landed in a field without breaking any bones. And I missed the electric wires I noticed on my descent.

But help! I was stuck in the mud! I couldn’t move my feet out of the mud. Fortunately, someone came to my rescue and had to pick me up out of the mud!

I had taken a significant risk and then got stuck in the mud!

Are You Stuck?

You may have been living an adventurous, joy-filled life and then something happened. And now you’re stuck. You can’t seem to move forward.

Do you feel like you’re not living but just going through the motions? Life has lost its wonder, and you’ve lost your passion? Are you living on autopilot?

You ask, “Where is the abundant life Jesus promised?”

Maybe early on in your life, things happened. You were deeply wounded. You have never felt that you were worth living a life of passion and meaning. Even though you are a Christian, you don’t feel like you have come alive with the joy of the Lord.

A shattered dream, a broken relationship, the death of a child or a spouse, a lost job—these are losses and disappointments that can cripple you. You are alive but not living with purpose and intention.

Many possible scenarios exist that lead to a STUCK LIFE. Bottom-line, you’re not moving forward into the life that Jesus died to give you.

What is holding you back?

Jesus died to give you a life of love, purpose and meaning in Him. He gave you His life! You now have His life in you. “Christ in you,” (Colossians 1:27) empowers you to live the abundant life Jesus promised.

If the life Jesus has given us is such a glorious gift, then why aren’t we experiencing it?

I pondered and wrestled with this question for decades. Why don’t I experience what God gave me? How do I experience it? Why doesn’t my Christian life look more like the way Christ lived?

What kept me stuck in the mud of ineffective Christian living?

Ouch! I do hate to use that word “ineffective.” But Peter did along with “unfruitful” (2 Peter 1:8). My Christian life was not bearing the fruit that I was destined to produce. I was easily hurt and offended. I did not love as Jesus loved me. (In faith I’m using past tense, but honestly, I know the Lord is still working in me.)

Jesus died to give me a life that was so much more than what I was living.

I came up with a list of reasons why I was stuck. Do you relate to any of them?

  • Forgetting who I am and what Jesus has done for me

  • Limiting beliefs or just plain unbelief

  • Shame and guilt

  • Disappointment

  • Not following through

  • Living on autopilot instead of living responsibly

  • Fear

  • Being a spectator instead of a participant in life

  • Making excuses

  • Self-protection

  • Lack of diligent effort

  • Misunderstanding the part action plays in faith

Though these are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed, they miss the most crucial issue.

Before I get to that, I want to tell you something about God that has intrigued me for years and left me with a profound sense of awe and wonder.

In just a few minutes you’ll see how understanding this characteristic of God can help us get unstuck and live an effective and fruitful Christian life.

A Powerful Yet Vulnerable God

In creating and loving us, Abba Father opened up His heart to painful wounding and rejection beyond our comprehension.

Our Father made Himself vulnerable to the pain of rejection by His wayward children.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).
Jesus was rejected by His own people and put to death by the agony of crucifixion.

We can grieve the Holy Spirit. Paul in Ephesians 4:30 says: “Do not grieve the Spirit of God.”

Our Father even suffers with those who suffer. “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9).

Then the ultimate pain of the Father: Jesus became sin for us, and the wrath of the Father fell on Jesus. The astonishing truth is that our sin separated the Father and Son during that dark time.

Our Father longs for relationship with us so much. He made Himself vulnerable to hurt from you and me.

Being stuck is missing the intimate relationship with Abba Father and hurting His heart.

Unstuck and on a Mission

The eleven disciples all ran away when Jesus was arrested. Peter himself denied that he even knew Jesus.

They were downcast, fearful, and confused after the crucifixion. All were stuck in their grief and shock in the Upper Room.

Then they met the Risen Lord! And then the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. Those encounters changed everything!

The all-powerful God of heaven and earth made Himself vulnerable and risked everything on a small band of ordinary men and women.

Stuck in their own grief and disappointment

in the Upper Room

And then…

Transformed and empowered by the presence of the Risen Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit!

You and I Unstuck and on a Mission!

Unstuck and Free!
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Dear friend, grasp the truth that the powerful God of the universe made Himself vulnerable to us. He knows what we are going through and feels the pain. He does not turn away from us but pursues us with a loving heart. Abba Father desires an intimate love relationship with us.

When I am stuck, I forget what I need and want and what my Father wants. I need a fresh encounter with my Lord to lift me out of my stuck-in-the-mud mindset. I picture Him lifting me out of the mud of ineffective and unfruitful living to an adventurous life on a mission with Him. This intimacy with my Lord is what I want and what He longs for, too.

God in His grace will come to you and lift you out of your stuck mindset. He sets you free to enjoy intimacy with Him. Then He gives you the honor of working with Him.

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

Beloved friend, we can live the life that Jesus died to give us! More to come. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for my blog post emails and receive a 7-Day Email Devotional Study.

Scammed! Love Lessons Learned

Scammed!
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An Interrupted Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, at least, I am writing this on Valentine’s Day (and the next day!). My plan was to write this on Saturday, the 13th, and have it ready for Valentine’s Day.

Life happened! I fell for an online scam. You know the kind. A pop-up says that you have malware or spyware and to call a number. I did and gave them access to my laptop. I even filled out the form to get their services. My credit card company declined my card as the transaction was for a possible fraudulent tech company. I called my credit card company, and they canceled my card and issued a new one.

That was yesterday. Today I got worried. Concentrating in church was difficult. They had access to my laptop yesterday and may have stolen personal information. I changed passwords and called my bank. Now I have to monitor everything.

I thought I was careful online. Well, quite honestly I made a foolish choice. I let them in. I gave them access. They were not Mac Support as they said they were. They lied, and I fell for it. They stole my time. I hope that’s all they stole.

An Interrupted Love Relationship

Now, these verses from 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 really spoke to me:

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

How our enemy loves to deceive us and to lead our thinking away from pure love and devotion to Christ. And I hate to admit it, but I have given access to anxious, fearful, complaining, negative, critical, and judging thoughts. And that’s a partial list! I’ve allowed those thoughts to lodge in my mind and dwell there. Sometimes for a long time.

Interesting that our thoughts are led astray from devotion to Christ. My scam experience made me think more of how I give access to what I don’t want in my life. I make the choice. I need to admit that I choose what I ponder in my mind. You can’t stop wrong thoughts from coming in, but you sure can choose to think about something else.

I have made foolish and sinful choices based on those thoughts. I have spoken negative and complaining words, instead of words springing from a heart at rest in the Lord’s love.

Thankfully, the Lord’s kindness leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). He gives an awareness of those thoughts and how they are leading me away from what my heart longs for most—the intimate love relationship with Him. I choose to change my thinking and rejoice in the love I have in Christ.

A Renewed Focus on the Love Relationship

So now how about focusing our thoughts on Christ’s love for us and our love for Him? Why not turn your attention to this glorious and beautiful love relationship we have with Him? I turn away from worry and anxiety about the scam, and trust my loving Lord.

Imagine that you and I are sitting in Starbucks, sipping our lattes and enjoying time together. I ask you,

“What made you fall in love with Jesus? Why do you love Him so much? Tell me your love story.”

Your face lights up and glows as you share how Jesus captivates your heart, how you met Him, how He won your heart, and how His love delights you.

When you remember the times of darkness, pain, and loneliness, your doubts and questions and your Beloved’s faithfulness, tears of quiet joy flow. Isn’t it in those dark times that His love shines the brightest?

My eyes tear up as you tell your story. There is no greater story than the love story of our relationship with God.

My Heart’s Passion

Beloved friend, this is all about bringing our focus back to our love relationship with God.

I refuse to give my attention to any lies or thoughts that would lead me astray from my pure love for the Lord.

By the grace of God, I will not give the enemy access to steal my joy or bring any destruction into my life.

I will trust the Lord in all of life’s circumstances. He will always work everything together for good.

Nothing, nothing, nothing matters more than a passionate love relationship with the Lord.

His extravagant love will meet your heart’s deepest needs, and capture your heart.

Your heart will be ignited with the fire of His love for you.

As you can see, getting scammed has become a catalyst to making sure nothing leads me away from devotion to God. The scam has become a gift! Who would think that a scam could teach a love lesson? God can use anything!

I must add that the day of the scam was the last day of a 7-day fast. Interesting timing, isn’t it? I had never done an extended fast before. I highly recommend praying and fasting and seeking the Lord. He is so worthy of our love and devotion.

Your Love Story

God's Heart
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I encourage you to write or tell someone your love story. Write out a love letter to the Lord. Do whatever you can do to focus your thoughts on your beloved God. He loves you so much! Don’t let your thinking lead you away from pure devotion to God.

Dig deeply into God’s Word to be renewed in His love for you. Look for His heart.

Focus your thoughts on the Person and Work of Christ. My friends, Arabah Joy and Amanda Criss, have created an excellent tool, “Praying the Promises of the Cross, a 40-day prayer journal.” I am going through it right now and love it.

Here is the link below: I am not an affiliate. I just want you to get this fantastic tool.

Praying the Promises of the Cross, a 40-day prayer journal

Bloggers, writers, and anyone who wants to share their love story with God, I would enjoy publishing your experience of God’s love on my website. For information and guidelines, please email me at

christine email image

Pray with me for my scammer, Steve Williams. (His accent did not sound like his name.) He needs to know Jesus, too. Pray blessing on his life that he would turn away from the path he’s on to the Lord. God can do miracles. We already know that! You and I both experienced one when we became the Beloved of God.

My Guest Post: Abba Father’s Answer to Fear

 

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My Guest Post: Abba Father’s Answer to Fear

I had the honor of writing a guest post for my friend, Valerie Murray, for her “Facing Fear Series.” Click on the link below, and you’ll be able to read it:

My Guest Post at Cordof6.com

In this post, I share very personally about my struggles with the fear of rejection. You’ll be amazed at what our Father did. You’ll see what a blue parakeet had to do with it, too.

God’s Word and His presence bring reassuring comfort and courage to us when we face fear. I hope my testimony of our loving Abba Father’s work in my life will bring you encouragement.

Here is the link to my guest post: My Guest Post at Cordof6.com

Many blessings to you in this new year!

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Listen to the Voice of Love

Listen to the Voice of Love-3

Don’t Be Afraid to Listen to the Voice of Love

Have you ever been afraid to listen to what Abba Father wants to say to you? Without even knowing what He’s going to say, do you shrink back in fear? That’s kind of like getting called to the principal’s office when you were a child. Or being called to your supervisor’s office at work. Can you sense the anxiety? We don’t usually expect to hear good things from authority figures.

So what might we do when God wants to speak to us?

We listen to people.

We listen to sermons.

We read the Bible and pray.

We busy ourselves with Christian activities.

Family keeps us occupied.

Friends and work take time.

Add on the distractions of TV, movies, social media, music and books.

Don’t get me wrong. All of these things can be good. And we may hear God speak to us through them.  They might even draw us closer to Him. They might also be healthy fun and recreation.

They also might distract us from hearing the voice of our Father.

Stop for a minute and let this question search your heart:

Are you afraid to listen to what Abba Father wants to say to you?

Does the thought of hearing God speak to you bring up feelings of delight or anxiety?

Holy awe or cowering dread?

Do you run to God or away from Him?

If the thought of God speaking to you brings feelings of anxiety and fear, unconsciously you might be using the above list of possible distractions to avoid hearing God’s voice.

Do I mean that you can actually read and study the Bible and avoid hearing God speak at the same time? That’s exactly what I mean.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day searched the Scriptures. They knew the Word. But what did Jesus say to them?

“ You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:40, ESV).

Why didn’t the Pharisees come to Jesus? They didn’t believe Him. They thought they had the right theology. They were religious and self-righteous. They would not humble themselves and turn to Jesus. The sad truth is:

The Pharisees missed the heart of God in their Bible study.

They created an image of a graceless, judgmental god and became like that image themselves.  

As a young Christian, I searched for answers to my problems in the Scriptures and in books. But I missed the heart of God toward me. I also believed in a graceless, judgmental god though I would have told you that God loves you and me.  I wanted to fix myself so that I would be acceptable.  The truth that I was already acceptable by what Jesus did on the Cross had not yet captivated my heart. I was especially graceless and judgmental toward myself. Shame and guilt tormented me.

I began to realize that what I believed was a lie. Abba Father revealed His love and grace to me through the Word and people and by the Spirit. This was a long process. Quite honestly, the learning and growth continue. I need to be reminded of who God really is. I must remember that He loves me as I am right now.

Without a true understanding of who Abba Father is, I am afraid to listen to His voice. I avoid real “quiet” times. He might speak words that trigger the pain of shame and guilt. He could condemn my attitudes or behavior. He might tell me to do something that I don’t want to do. These thoughts are based on a false image of God.

Oh, how utterly essential it is to know Abba Father as He really is! Then we can become like that image of Him. Then we will want to hear His voice, the Voice of Love.

Here is an experience I had just this weekend:

Friday night I was feeling tired after a week of work. I felt discouraged and a bit depressed. I was overwhelmed with all I needed to do on a project. I wondered if all the effort was worth it. I began questioning myself. Did I miss what God really wanted me to do?

I needed to hear the voice of my Father.

Saturday morning I read from a devotional app on my phone. The reading was from Luke 13:1-9. Jesus told a parable about a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit. The owner of the vineyard wanted to cut it down. After all, the tree had three years to bear fruit and had failed. The gardener instead wanted another year to dig around it and add manure (verse 8).

The Lord spoke to me through the reading and the reflection that followed. I was on the right track and needed to be patient and continue working. Hearing the Voice of Love inspired and empowered me. I was energized and ready to get up and continue. His words gave me hope and joy.

That interaction with the Lord took about 5 minutes but totally changed my perspective and attitude.

Abba Father wants to speak with you, too. He knows your needs, your questions and your pain. His words of Love and Life will bring peace to your soul.

Simply turn to Jesus in your heart. Come into His presence. Then listen for His voice, the Voice of Love. Read the Word as a window into the heart of God.

 God's Heart

Abba Father, reveal the glory of Your grace and love to our hearts.

 

Duck on a Lake Photo credit: Welcomia via Canva

You Have Been Given Glory!

You have been given glory.Look for the glory in the people you meet today

You Have Been Given Glory!

 

You have been given the same glory that the Father gave the Son! (see John 17:22)

What is this glory? What glory did the Father give the Son? And now what glory have you been given?

Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus then stated some amazing truths:

The Father who dwells in me does his works.”

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

The Father gave Himself to the Son. He lived in the Son. The glory is the very essence of the Father living in the Son, the presence of the Father in the Son.

Then Jesus gave the ultimate in jaw-dropping truth:

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

(See John 14 for the above verses.)

Jesus gave Himself to us. He is the Glory!

Look at John 17:21-23:

The Father in me and I in them. (verse 21)

The glory that you have given me I have given to them. (verse 22)

I in them and you in me. (verse 23)

Twice Jesus stated the truth that the Father indwells him and that Jesus is in the believer. And in the middle of these amazing truths Jesus says that He gave us the glory that the Father gave Him.

The glory that Jesus has given us is His very life in us.

What glory do you see in Jesus?

He is loving, full of grace and truth, compassionate, humble, kind, merciful and He loved His own to the extent of dying for them on a cross.

What glory do you see in your brothers and sisters?

My default has been to see the sin and the weakness. What is your default when looking at people?

On a missions trip to Nicaragua some years ago, the Lord so clearly pointed out the glory in my team members. I saw a servant’s heart in one brother. A sister expressed the love of Christ to the children and adults we met. The joy and the humility of the Lord were made visible through my brothers and sisters serving one another and the people we met in Nicaragua.

If I intentionally looked for the glory, I saw it.

That was an eye-opening experience. Seeing God’s glory in others caused me to love and appreciate them more. God’s glory creates oneness with others and a desire to worship the Lord. That joyful experience of seeing Jesus in others still amazes and thrills me.

Sometimes the glory seems to be hidden from sight. But when we are suffering and in pain, feeling broken, the light of His presence shines even brighter.

I encourage you to look for the glory. Then share what you see. Draw out the glory by using your words to build up and give grace (Ephesian 4:29).

Others will see the glory of the Lord in you!

Describe the glory that you see in your brothers and sisters in the Lord.

 

3 Ways God Expresses His Love

Father and Daughter Hugs

 

3 Ways God Expresses His Love

Do you want to experience God’s love and grace everyday? Once you’ve tasted that love, you become thirsty for more. That love fills your heart, covers your sin and shame, and empowers you to love others.

Who could push that love away? Who would turn away from Abba Father’s love?

I did.  Many times. Still do sometimes.

In my “Prodigal Daughter” years

When overwhelmed by the pain in my heart

When circumstances seemed to deny God’s love

While enjoying the temporary pleasures of sin

When looking at the Word through the eyes of law

When discouraged or depressed

When I didn’t understand Christ’s finished work on the Cross

Recently I saw Meagan White’s cartoon on Facebook:

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My first response was “Yeah, be nice to hug my dad and stepdad again.” I’d like to hug my mom again, too.  Even one more time. I miss them. All three of them.

However, I began to think and feel more deeply about the picture. Sadly, I did not have affectionate, loving relationships with any of my parents. I didn’t receive the nurture, protection and loving discipline of a father or the emotional nurture and loving counsel of a mother.  I miss more what I didn’t receive.

I am grateful for what they did give me—an introduction to my Savior, to church and moral living, food, clothing, shelter, birthday and Christmas celebrations.

I still love them. I expressed my love to them while they were still living. I forgave them. I believe my mom and stepdad forgave me for my anger and unkind words. I know I’ll see all three of them again in heaven.

The heart-brokenness from the neglect and abuse from my early years causes me to hunger more for the love of my Abba Father. The pain dug out a hole in my heart that only He can heal and fill with His love.

So how does God reveal His love to us? This expression must touch our hearts in life-giving and life-changing ways. This love must penetrate our numbed emotions. This love just might open up a flood of deeply buried pain and memories. Oh, but this love of Abba Father will be healing and empowering. The love of God is not mere words.

Here are 3 ways God expresses His love:

1. The Word – devotional times with the Lord, personal Bible study, sermon messages from pastors and missionaries

Some years ago I did a personal Bible study on the heart of God in the Old and New Testaments. I was especially captivated by God’s Heart revealed in the Book of Hosea.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute and then to buy her back from that slavery.

God used this parable to show me how broken-hearted He is over the waywardness and spiritual adultery of His people. The Blessed God and Creator of the universe opens up His heart to feel the pain of our disobedience. He cries out through the prophets, “Return to Me.” He longs for loving, heart-to-heart relationship with us.

Hang out in the Word. Dig deeply into the Word to know His love for you.

2. The Cross – Jesus died for you on the Cross. Words. We mentally agree with them. We believe them. Has the Cross touched you deeply? This is the greatest expression of the love of God.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9, ESV)

We know life came to us through His death.

I was applying for a teaching position at a Christian school. The interviewer wanted to make sure that I was a Christian. He asked the standard question:

“ If you died tonight, and stood before Jesus at the door to heaven, how would you answer His question, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’” (Honestly, I can’t imagine Jesus asking this question. When we see each other, we are going to have the biggest bear hug ever! Or I’ll just fall at His feet. No tears in heaven or I’d be doing that, too. Anyway back to the question…)

Right now I’m sitting in Starbucks and my eyes are getting watery as I think of my answer.

At the interview I got emotionally choked up as I answered, “I would point to the wounds in His hands, feet and side.” The only time I cried at an interview! The Cross and what Jesus had done for me had penetrated my heart. (Yes, I did get the job!)

Study the Cross. Ask the Lord to deeply, deeply teach you the meaning of the Cross. You will be humbled and forever grateful. You may already know how much you are loved as shown by the cross. Let’s worship Him together!

3. Circumstances – Allow your daily circumstances to reveal His love to you.

Looking back after long years of dealing with painful circumstances from childhood and facing the pain that is inevitable in daily living in this world, I see that my loving Abba Father has worked everything together for good—my good, others’ good and the good of the kingdom of God.

God does not have to prove His love to me. I know and believe His love. The Word and Cross have revealed that love to me in a deeply heart-capturing way.

Driving to work one day, I asked my Father to reveal His love to me. Though I know by experience that God loves me, I want His “heart hugs” that are daily expressions of His affection for me.

Not long after that, I parked my car, paid for parking, and unknowingly dropped my wallet. I had just parked my car in Richmond, infamous for its high crime rate.

About 5 minutes later I realized my wallet was gone. I hurriedly walked back to my car. I hoped I had just dropped my wallet in my car.

But no wallet in my car! I walked over to where I paid for the parking. No wallet!

Just then I saw a woman walking across the parking lot towards me.  “Did you lose your wallet?” she asked. She had found my wallet and had turned it in to security at her company. Just at the moment when I started to get desperate, she came looking for me!

Wow! I considered that a heart hug from my Father.

Yes! I’d love to be able to give my dad, my stepdad and mom another hug, an expression of my love for them. One more hug!

Now more than anything I want those heart hugs from my Abba Father. And I want to give heart hugs to Him by how I live and love the people in my life.

Abba Father, reveal Your love to this dear brother or sister through your Word, the Cross and daily circumstances. We praise and worship You! 

How has God revealed His love to you?

 

5 Reasons to Focus on Grace Everyday

Reasons

5 Reasons to Focus on Grace Everyday

I was studying the Bible at Prairie Bible Institute in Canada, and I was miserable! How could I be so unhappy? I was finally preparing for missionary service. I was following the dream God put in my heart. Why the depression and discouragement then?

I Did Not Understand Grace!

I did not understand grace. That’s the answer. Plain and simple. Not understanding grace and studying God’s Word put tremendous pressure on me to be and act like a saint, a very loving and kind Mother Teresa-type saint. Yet I felt like a horrible sinner. How can you live up to what the Bible says you should be?

The Bible condemned me. That’s how I felt. That was a lie from the pit of hell.

Romans 8:1 is the truth: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I didn’t get it.  Not yet anyway.

I looked at the Bible through the lens of law. I focused on me and not on Christ and what He had already done for me on the cross.

Of course, I believed that Jesus had died for me. I just could not stop feeling condemned for who I was and the sins I still committed. Sins like being unforgiving and bitter and acting in unloving ways with my attitude, behavior and words.

I did not need to try harder. I didn’t need to rededicate myself to God. I needed to understand and receive grace.

“Either we live under pressure to grow, or we celebrate grace.”

(Dr. Larry Crabb, Finding God, Page 132)

 For many years as a Christian I lived under pressure to grow and to change. That was miserable bondage. Thank God! He set me free!

Can you relate to what I’m talking about? If you can, let me tell you, there is freedom!

The process to understanding grace for me was a long one. The Holy Spirit, the Word, books about grace, and loving relationships with people taught me grace. In fact, they still teach me grace.

Can you imagine the change that would take place if you and I focused on grace everyday? Wow! What a daily celebration that would be!

Five Reasons to Focus on Grace Everyday

These reasons will motivate us to seek to understand and receive grace everyday. Here are 5 of many reasons to focus on grace everyday:

1. To develop a trust relationship with God instead of trying to live a Christian life on your own.

2. To enjoy an intimate relationship with God instead of running from Him.

3. To live a life of freedom instead of living in legalism (under law) or license (taking sin too lightly).

4. To understand our worth in God’s eyes instead of living in shame and self-hatred.

5. To pursue God Himself who is grace instead of seeking to fix ourselves.

How does this work out in real life? Let me explain further.

When I didn’t understand grace, the focus was on me fixing myself. I was driven to work on myself so that I would be acceptable to God, others and myself. I had to feel good about myself.

And how did that work for me? Of course, it didn’t. I couldn’t make me into who I thought God wanted me to be. Shame and self-hatred controlled me.

A focus on grace frees me from the compulsion to make myself acceptable. I already am! The truth set me free! Free to pursue the relationship with God that my heart longs for. In that relationship, God changes me.

Can I forget and start working on myself again? Sure! I can forget who I am and feel pressure to change. But when I remember grace, I celebrate all that God has done. He changes me as I trust in Him.

What are other reasons to focus on grace everyday?

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Healing Journey: Surprised by Grace

Surprised by Grace

Surprised by Grace!

What Delights Your Heart?

For a seven-year old boy a pile of freshly-raked leaves will cause squeals of joy. Seeing your child playing and laughing with no worries or fears just might bring joy to your heart (aside from the messed up pile of leaves you just raked!). What else brings great joy to your heart?

What Delights God’s Heart?

YOU delight God’s heart.

For the Lord your God is living among you.

He is a mighty savior.

He will delight in you with gladness.

With his love, he will calm all your fears.

He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT).

The surprise is that He takes great delight in you as you are now. He’s your Father and He loves you as you are. As you are right now! You don’t have to get everything right or fix yourself. He delights in YOU!

Delightful Surprises on Your Healing Journey

Your Abba Father delights in YOU. He will surprise you with joy on the Healing Journey. 

The journey can be very intense at times as you go through the pain and grieve your losses. 

Your Abba will allow circumstances that bring you face-to-face with what needs healing and grace. Oh, is that ever painful at times!

Along the journey to the Father’s heart of love, He will delight your heart with grace.

Let me illustrate by telling you my own experience.

Shame Drove Me to My Healing Journey

To be honest, the pain of shame and guilt drove me toward the Healing Journey. I felt heart-crushing shame, “Something is wrong with me that must be fixed.” (You can read more of my story in my free ebook and on my “About” page). Guilt over not meeting the “Christian standards” crippled me. My focus was on my shame and my sin.

At the beginning I had no idea that I was even on a healing journey to the Father’s heart. I just wanted relief from pain. I was committed to following God no matter what. I didn’t know that He was far more devoted to me.

My journey led to Japan. My Abba Father called me to serve the Japanese as a missionary. God was ministering through me to the Japanese on one level. I was learning and teaching grace. (Read my previous blog posts about God’s amazing work in the lives of two sisters).

On the other level I was on the Healing Journey. I was about to come face-to-face with the excruciating pain of shame.

Shame needs to be covered. My missionary identity made a comfortable covering. Or did it?

My Covering for Shame Was Not Enough

How could I live up to my perception of the perfect missionary? I viewed J. Hudson Taylor, the founder of my mission organization, as my hero and example of faith. I still struggled with trusting God.

And then I didn’t fit the missionary mold. I loved teaching God’s Word, but I was not an aggressive evangelist. As a single missionary, I had lots of time to spend hanging out with the Japanese. My great joy was spending time in God’s presence and then sharing Him with the Japanese in non-intrusive ways. Building caring relationships was my primary concern. I wanted to truly love my friends whether they decided to follow Christ or not.

I prayed. I shared the gospel. Then I stepped back to let God work in their hearts. You can imagine that this process was not a quick one. God worked in His time and with a few, not large numbers.

The pastor and elder board of the church where I worked criticized me. I was not like the previous missionaries who brought in many new people to the church. To the Japanese church leaders, I was not acting like a real missionary. I did not meet the standard.

Their words cut to the core of my very fragile self. I did not have the confidence to stand up to their criticism. My missionary identity was ripped off. I was devastated.

You can guess who was standing with me through all the pain and humiliation.

Surprised by My New Covering

God my Father and the Lord Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit met me in that very painful time. Colossians 3:12a spoke to my heart in a very healing and powerful way: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” I saw the truth and believed it. The Father chose me. I am holy and dearly loved. I am His beloved!

The Lord totally overwhelmed with the sense of His presence and love. For about a month I felt like I was walking in heaven.

Abba Father delighted me with the fullness of His love.

The word “fullness” describes the grace He gave me. I was filled with His love and joy. Praise and thanksgiving filled me instead of depression, discouragement, criticism and complaining. I certainly had complained about my circumstances and the Japanese who criticized me. Now I was overflowing with love for everyone. Amazing miracle!

The Lord’s love and grace became the covering for my shame. The power of this love was transforming. The Japanese people saw the difference in me.

My relationship with a young girl and her mother in the church was healed as a result of this surprising grace. They had been angry with me for not meeting their expectations. Then they saw me experience God’s love. His love touched their hearts, and we became very close. We marveled at the work that God did in all of our hearts.

Abba Will Delight You with His Love

God our Father will delight your heart with His love. He reveals His love to you in specific ways that you understand. Your heart will dance with joy because you will know it’s your Abba showing His love. You might sense His presence and love through reading the Word, in a prayer time, in a difficult trial, in a sunrise, in the words of a friend or in a church worship service. He just might supply a tangible need or a desire—finances, a car, clothing, a husband or a wife. Or He might allow some pain to drive you closer to Himself. In the midst of that pain, open your heart to Him. He will show up and reveal His love.

Abba Father, fill the heart of your beloved who is reading this with your love, joy and peace. Reveal Your heart of love. Glorify Your name. All glory to You! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

You may contact me at christine@gracebreakthroughs.com to share your story or ask questions.

Grace to you!

Where Are You on the Grace Journey?

Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt via Wikimedia Commons
            Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt via Wikimedia Commons

Where Are You on the Grace Journey?

No matter what’s going on in your life right now, you are on a journey of the heart to your Abba Father. Those very circumstances that cause you pain or joy are being used by our loving Father to bring you closer to Him.

Are you turning to Him? Or are you turning away from your Father to an addiction or other distraction? Are you experiencing His grace and love and sharing it with others? Or is your heart broken and closed off? Are you daily enjoying the Lord’s presence or do you hide from Him in shame and guilt?

Take a few minutes and quietly in your heart, ask the Lord to show you where your heart is on this journey. Are you hurting, angry, fearful, anxious or joyful and resting in the Father’s heart. Be honest. You can journal. You might like to share with a close friend. You can also email me at christine@gracebreakthroughs.com. I’m happy to be a listening ear.

The Heart of Abba Father

One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, wrote a book called, The Return of the Prodigal Son. The book is an in-depth study of Rembrandt’s painting and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Look at the image above. You can easily pick out the Father and the Prodigal Son.

Rembrandt pictured the elder son at the right in the same scene. Both sons needed to come home to the Father. Jesus told this parable in answer to the grumbling of the religious leaders of that day, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

This parable is really about the heart of the Father. He is always waiting and longing to lavish His love on both sons.

The younger son sinned so openly and was surprised by His Father’s love and acceptance.

The elder tried to earn His Father’s love by doing everything right. Look at the older son’s stance in the painting. He rigidly judged his brother. He did not understand the Father’s heart nor did he experience and enjoy His love.

The amazing conclusion of Nouwen’s book is that the goal is for us to have the heart of the Father toward others. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Experience the depths of His love for you and that love can’t help but overflow from you to others.

Where are you on the journey to the heart of your Abba Father?

In one sense you are already there. Jesus brought you to the Father by His death on the Cross (1 Peter 3:18). When you believe and receive Jesus, you become His child (John 1:12).

You are His beloved child and He is your Abba Father. The Father loves you as much as He loves Jesus, the Son.

In another sense, you are not yet there. Here’s what I mean:

You are on a journey to understand and experience Abba Father’s love and grace.

At times of confusion and deep pain, I needed to see that events in my life were not just random and without purpose. When my dreams were shattered, my hope was that I am on a journey to know God. The point was not my comfort or happiness, but the ultimate purpose of knowing His grace and love and sharing His glory with others.

When the pain of shame and fear nearly overwhelmed me, I had to “see” the compassion on His face, the tender love in His eyes. Without a growing understanding of His love and grace, I would not have survived. That may sound a bit dramatic, but that’s the truth.

Knowing my Abba Father and His Son Jesus Christ in an intimate love relationship is life (John 17:3). He is my Life!

Dear friend, the Father is drawing your heart to Himself. Open your heart to Him. Tell Him where you’re at. Ask Him to reveal His love and grace to your heart. Turn to Him. He knows what you need. You can trust Him.

Let me know if I can pray for you. I would love to hear your story and how you are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18).

In God’s amazing grace and love,

Chris

christine@gracebreakthroughs.com

P. S. Check out the “Recommendations” tab for books to read for your encouragement. You can order Henri Nouwen’s book through my affiliate link here, The Return of the Prodigal Son.

 

3. Powerful Grace Lesson from Japan

Grace Breakthrough Connection Blog

Journey Together to the Father’s Heart

 

Called and chosen to be in an intimate love relationship with the living God! He longs to lavish His grace upon you. He has been leading you on a journey to His Heart of Love.

At times the way is through dark valleys of betrayal, loss and confusion. The road seems to lead away from His love. Your heart is in such pain that you cry out, “Where are you, my Abba Father?”

Other times the way opens up into the bright sunlight of His loving face. You have some moments of rest in His love. Inexpressible joy flows. You are refreshed and ready to continue on this inner journey of the heart.

Suddenly you look around and see you are not the only one on this journey. Your Abba Father is leading countless others to His heart, too. They are your brothers and sisters.

You long for connection, to belong, to feel safe with your fellow travelers. You were created for relationship with them, too.

But a long-buried terror rises in your heart. You tremble in fear.

You remember how certain ones nearly destroyed you. They stole precious jewels from your heart. They trampled your worth under their feet. You still bear the wounds and pain as you continue on your journey to the heart of the Father.

Isolation seems the better option. No pain. Really? Or how about control so no one hurts you like that again. Protect yourself at all costs. Keep your heart closed.

Then your Lord Jesus comes to your side. (You know, He is the way to the Father.) He hands you a beautiful white orchid. “This is who you are and who you are becoming,” He says to you with a compassionate smile.

“What do you mean?” you ask.

“Your new heart is beautiful like all the shining jewels of the world. You are righteous and pure by my gift to you. I became sin for you. Your shame and guilt are taken away by my death on the Cross.”

He continues, “Now look at the face of the orchid. How would you describe it?”

“Exquisitely fragile and open. So delicate and yet so open. Yes, open.”

Tears begin to slide down your cheeks. You sense His deep love for you. At the same time with a sudden burst of insight you know what He is asking of you.

As you walk this healing journey with Jesus, you open your heart to receive the restoring love of your Abba Father. And by the power of grace you love your brothers and sisters.

White Orchids

Lesson 3 — Loving One Another Is Experiencing the Love of God

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:22-23, ESV).

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:9-12, ESV).

Beloved one, meditate on these verses (and all of John 14-17). Your Abba Father loves you as much as He loves the Son. Jesus loves you as much as the Father loves Him. You are in union with the Father and the Son and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. To love one another is to experience the love of God.

Yes, I had precious experiences of the love of God in Japan. I continue to learn and experience more of His love. Everyday I need His love and grace.

Another amazing joy is to experience God’s love by loving one another. Grace breaks through our hearts. We open our hearts to love our brothers and sisters. We are empowered by grace through faith to love. We love one another and experience even more of Abba Father’s love. Amazing grace!

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 ESV).

May you be filled up with all the fullness of His love.

With much love in Abba Father,

Chris