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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!

 

 

 

When You’re Sad at Christmas Time

Feeling Sad at Christmas Time

 

When You’re Sad at Christmas Time 

Merry Christmas, dear friend! How are you? How are you really? I want to know. So often we greet each other, and the answer is supposed to be: “I’m fine,” or “Great!” We don’t want to share more, and the other person most likely does not wish to hear how we truly are. We’re all busy and in a hurry.

Well, I’m going to break the ice, and share what I’ve been feeling and how I’m learning to cope with those feelings.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling sad and a little downhearted. When you are single, no husband or children, Christmas can be a time of reflection and questioning. Was I wrong to focus on ministry instead of marriage? I think about this, but I come back to the truth: I have had a very adventurous and fulfilling life as a single missionary in Japan and then as a single woman living here in the States. I am content in the Lord, but sometimes when I’m feeling lonely, I wonder what if…

Also, my parents are gone as well as an aunt and uncle and both of their sons, my two cousins. Our families enjoyed celebrating the holidays together. Christmas is just not the same with these loved ones not here anymore.

Maybe you can relate to what I’m saying, or you might have other reasons for feeling melancholy this Christmas season.

If you have small children, you may be very excited about Christmas and all the activities. What is more fun than to see your child play an angel or Mary or Joseph in the church Christmas program! Maybe this doesn’t apply to you personally. You may have a friend who is feeling sad, though.

One short sentence with three different meanings has helped me cope with my feelings:

1. You’re not alone. Others are feeling the same way. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share how you’re feeling.

A co-worker and I were talking. How we both were feeling came up in the conversation. She was also feeling sad. Then I heard others were feeling the same way. I knew in my head that other people would be sad during the holidays, but I was still feeling alone. Then talking with others helped. I had to come out of isolation and speak my feelings. I’m not alone. You’re not alone either. Share with someone how you’re feeling.

2. You’re not alone. Though many loved ones aren’t here, look at the ones who are with you. Love on them. Invest time and energy in their lives.

I’m concentrating now on the family and friends that are here. I have a sister and cousin nearby and two nieces that I love dearly. And friends. And I am a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) for a foster child. I am blessed to know her and support her.

3. You’re not alone. Jesus, our “Immanuel” (“God with us”), is here. Seek comfort in Him and not in the trappings of Christmas—spending money, gift giving, and all the food. Not saying, don’t enjoy the gifts and food. What I’m saying is, don’t let them distract you from Jesus and don’t use them as distractions from your pain.

As I focus on Jesus, worshipping Him, adoring and loving Him, I sense His comforting presence. Tears may not be far away and easily spill over at a memory or at a scene on TV that touches my heart. I am thankful for being able to grieve and to have the comfort of the Lord.

Dear friend, we are not alone! May the glory of Jesus’ birth fill your heart with joy and wonder. I love and appreciate you! Thank you for joining this Grace Breakthroughs Journey. 2016 is going to be an adventure!

 

Please leave a comment about how you are feeling and how you cope at Christmas. Your words may be the encouragement someone else needs.

 

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A Solution for My 5 Goal-Setting Mistakes

A Solution for My Goal-Setting Mistakes

A Solution for My 5 Goal-Setting Mistakes

I set goals for 2015 that I didn’t accomplish. In preparing for 2016, I’m looking back to see what didn’t work in order to learn from my mistakes. The same patterns have been repeated year after year. I have taken a deeper look to see what is bringing me to a standstill in some areas of my life. I need a Grace Breakthrough for 2016!

At the end of this post, I’m going to introduce you to a great solution for goal-setting mistakes. You’ll love it!

I’m not good at setting goals and then following through. So I miss out on accomplishing some really good things, things I really want to do. Like living a healthy lifestyle. I want 2016 to be better than 2015.

Here are my 5 goal-setting mistakes:

Mistake #1. Not first getting clear on my God-given desires, dreams, and vision

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, ESV) If I’m finding my joy in the Lord, then my heart’s true desires will be fulfilled. What are those desires? The Lord has given us a new heart that longs for what He desires. Invite the Lord into the process and look deeper. What do I really want?

Set goals that come out of your passionate heart union with the Lord. 

That is where true motivation comes from.

Mistake #2. Feeling as though accomplishing my goals depends solely on my willpower and discipline, and then giving up when I don’t think I can do it.

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2; 12-13, ESV).

He works and I work. I live in Him and He lives in me.

Imagine the possibilities when you’re living by faith in union with Jesus. Imagine what grace will do!

“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”

― Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship

Living by grace doesn’t mean we don’t make great efforts to achieve goals. We are just not trying to earn acceptance with God. We already have it!

Grace empowers us to accomplish God’s will.

Mistake #3 Forgetting Killing my goals so I don’t take the necessary steps to reach them

I wrote out some goals for 2015. I put them away, out of sight. When I did look at them, the intention was not to make a plan and do them. Sounds strange, right? My first thought was that I was forgetting the goals and should have looked at them every day to focus on them and to accomplish them.

But as I was writing this, the Lord reminded me of my bug collection. I had to look deeper.

WARNING: If you are squeamish and faint of heart, scroll quickly down to mistake #4.

I made an insect collection for a science project in junior high school. Creepy big black beetle bugs were included. My “dead” bugs were housed in a cigar box after I killed them with a chemical in a test tube. A pin pierced their bodies and held them in place. The problem was some of the bigger bugs, the black ugly beetles, revived and tried to walk around with the pin still piercing their bodies.

I treated my goals like that creepy insect collection. But my goals were good. They were not ugly, creepy sinful things. But I killed them. Those desires would revive and I’d have to knock them out again. Why would I treat my goals like that? Why would I sabotage myself? Why would I repeatedly stop myself from doing the good that I wanted to do?

Bug Collection

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Overwhelm, perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of success, feelings of unworthiness…

Timothy Keller wrote: “Unless you believe the gospel, everything you do, will be driven by pride or fear.”

Driven by pride or fear, I squash my God-given desires and goals.

Believing the gospel of grace, I can move forward to achieve those goals. I need daily reminders of the amazing grace of God. Maybe  the issue is not that I forget my goals or kill them, but the real problem is that I forget the wonder of the gospel of grace.

Mistake #4. Not having someone check in with me to see if I’m following through

Now, I do not want someone nagging me or pushing me. However, I do need loving encouragement that will remind me who I am and what I really want to do.

We cannot live an isolated Christian life. We need the encouragement of one another.

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV).

Let’s encourage one another so that we don’t waste our time and our lives. You and I have a purpose. Our lives matter.

Mistake #5. Drifting and living impulsively rather than living with confidence and assurance in God’s will and Word

My default is living without a plan and winging it.

If the Apostle Paul knew me, he’d be praying Colossians 4:12 for me: “That I would stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

I make a decision and then doubt myself. Am I really doing what God wants me to do? I analyze myself into the ground! Then I come back to the Word and realize that…yes! I’m going in the right direction. I cause myself unnecessary misery by not immediately returning to the Word when I face doubts.

Can you relate to any of these? Let me know about your experience with goal-setting. You can leave a comment or email me at christine@gracebreakthroughs.com

And now…Let me introduce you to a wonderful solution. My friend and mentor, Arabah Joy, who works incognito as a missionary in Asia, created a resource that is the perfect solution to anyone’s goal-setting mishaps. You’re gonna love this. I am so excited to share her course with you. She will take you through a process to set and achieve the right goals that will transform your life.

 

Grace Goals is a revolutionary approach for Christians to set and achieve godly goals. Forget the fleshly tactics and self-help! This approach is grounded in scripture and shows you how to work in conjunction with the Spirit who is working within you to do His good pleasure. By author and missionary Arabah Joy.

Grace Goals”—I love it! I have already read the entire book and am working through the assignments. This is so helpful. I’m trusting my Abba Father that 2016 will be even better than this year.

You can purchase this resource for $15 through my affiliate link here: Grace Goals Course

(Because I’m recommending “Grace Goals,” I’ll receive a commission that does not affect your price.)

Are there any bonuses?

Yes! Three Bonuses:

1. You’ll be invited to join the Grace Goals Facebook Group for your encouragement. Arabah Joy herself pops in and answers questions and offers encouragement.

2. You’ll receive another resource, “Year End Review,” that will guide you to review the year and to get ready for 2016.

3. If you get stuck or just want some feedback, you can talk with me on a 30-minute telephone call. I love this bonus because I will get to talk with you!

To receive the “Year End Review” and the telephone call with me, just email me your purchase receipt with your email and telephone number. Here’s my email:

christine email image

Learn more about “Grace Goals” from Arabah Joy herself. Click on the image below:

Grace Goals Course

Top Photo Credit: Soccer Player Shooting a Goal, Photocreo/Canva.com

3 Reasons Why “How to” Doesn’t Work

How to Does Not Work

3 Reasons Why “How to” Does Not Work

Have you ever struggled with living the Christian life? Has it ever felt impossible to you?

You want to love God and people, but you find yourself failing.

You just had your quiet time. And now just a short time later, you regret the words you just spoke to your child, your spouse or a friend. Or you regret the tone and the attitude behind the words. Been there, done that!

As you go deeper into the Christian life, you realize sin is not just about outward behavior. Your heart attitudes, thought life and motives even for doing right can also be sinful.

For years I struggled with this question: How do I live the Christian life? What must I do? How can I experience freedom?

 I was asking the wrong question. “How?” is asking for a “how to.” A method to follow.

I wanted something I could do to get victory over sin.

I discovered that the answer is not in coming up with a plan, a method or strategy to follow. At the core of the Christian life there is no “how to.”

Why? Look at the following 3 reasons:

1. The Christian life is not a sin management program.

No program or plan will help us overcome sin.

Dallas Willard in his book, The Divine Conspiracy, used the term “sin management” to describe a Christian lifestyle with sin as the focus. This is a miserable and frustrating way to live. Have you lived with a focus on the sin in your life?

A constant struggle with sin is not the life that Jesus died to give you.

What a miserable way of living! Focusing on sin leads to more sin. Trying to rid your heart of idols will lead to replacing the old idols with new. Struggling with an addiction? Get rid of one and another addiction will take its place.

So you can let the burden of sin roll off your shoulders. Relax! There is a greater purpose to your life! Victory over sin is a reality. (Keep reading!)

OK, then should we focus on the positive? Should I come up with a plan to become the person that God created me to be? Wouldn’t a strategy for becoming a better Christian help us here? No, this will fail also. Why?

2. The Christian life is not a self-improvement program.

None of these work:

  • Following a method, a formula, steps or any do-it-yourself plan
  • Striving in your strength to live by biblical principles
  • Using spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study to live up to your standard of behavior
  • Trying and struggling and failing and trying again
  • Focusing on yourself and trying to fix yourself
  • Rededicating yourself to act like Jesus would

 All of the above are an emphasis on what I do. I want to be in control of the process. I want a “how to” list to follow. If that’s what I’m looking for, I’m still depending on self to live the Christian life. If we are operating out of the flesh, we cannot please God (Romans 8:8). We will constantly fail here, too. 

We can be doing good things and still be powered by our good “religious” flesh. The choice in the Christian life is not between good and evil. Moral living is not the point of the gospel.  

Pastor Timothy Keller in a message about “The Prodigal Son,” called the story, “The Two Sons.” One chose the good and the other the bad. He said both sons needed to repent—one for the evil he did and the other for the good he did for the wrong reasons. The elder son obeyed the Father and worked hard for him, but his heart was far from the Father, too. He did not receive his father’s love and then obey and serve from a heart of love.

So relax, my friend. The Christian life is not a focus on how to overcome sin or how to become a better Christian. Even how to become more like Christ, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), could lead you down the path to self-improvement. Don’t go there. There is a better way!

By asking “How?” I’m asking for a plan or steps to follow.

Paul asked the right question: “Who will deliver me?” (See Romans 7:24). Paul discovered that living the Christian life was impossible for him. Only Jesus living in Him could live the life.

The third reason why the Christian life is not a “how to”:

3. The Christian life is Christ living His life in and through you. 

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

My friend, this is the life Jesus died to give you—His very own life in you.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, ESV).

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4, ESV).

For years I studied the Bible, read books about Christian living and admired the Christians who understood and experienced the truths that I was seeking to understand. I tried so hard to figure out this life of union with Christ.

My search was complicated because woundedness was one my challenges or so I believed. Wasn’t trusting God or anyone for that matter more difficult for me? That may be so, but all of my life was part of the process of learning to trust and surrender my life to God. I had to “own” all of the challenges of my life.

As I studied and taught grace and all that we have received in Jesus, the more I began to understand and experience the truth. Jesus is my life. He lives in me. I am still learning and growing in these truths. I long to experience more of the life of Christ.

Are you struggling with sin or yourself? With pain or grief? Or struggling to believe and trust?

Jesus says, “Come to Me. I will give you rest.

I am the end of your struggle for righteousness. I became sin for you. You are now righteousness in Me.

Do you need love for others? Come to Me. I will lavish my love and grace on you. You will be filled with My love. Love by that overflow.

Depend on My resources–My love, power and wisdom–for all you need to live this life.

By My death and resurrection, you have everything you need. You have the Holy Spirit, My Spirit, living in you to comfort and encourage you.

Believe the truth and you will be free. When I set you free, you are really free.”

(See Matthew 11:28-20, Romans 10:3-13, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 3:14-21, 2 Peter 1:3-4 and John 8:32-36).

What resources are you relying upon to live this life? Yours or His?

Are you struggling or resting in Him?

Let me know how I can pray for you. Pray for me, too. Let’s keep our focus on Jesus, adore and worship Him.

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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

The Life Jesus Died to Give You

The work is finished.-2

The Life Jesus Died to Give You

Ever wonder why your life is not working out how you thought it would? Are you struggling and wondering where the abundant life is that Jesus promised to give you?

Do you have needs that aren’t being met? Financial or physical needs? Unhappy marriage? Maybe you’re single and struggle with loneliness. Or you want to have children but can’t. Do you need physical healing or emotional healing?

Where is the abundant life, the life of joy, peace and love? You may have wondered about this like I have. I had a plan for my life. I believed this was also God’s plan for my life.

Have you heard the following expression? “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Our plans are what we believe will be the path to a life of significance, meaning, purpose and fulfillment. What we envision for our lives may be God’s plan or maybe not.

Our plans might also be a temporary part of God’s plan like my missionary career of 17 years. I thought I would be serving in Japan for the rest of my working life. God had other plans. Losing that missionary role and identity was very difficult for me. Now I see how God’s plan was the best. Amazing, isn’t it?! Father does know best!

Today I want to get you thinking about this topic:

What is the life Jesus died to give you?

Jesus said He came to give you life, abundant life (John 10:10). What does that mean? What is this life? The very next verse says that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).  He laid down His life so we could have life. What is this life?

Before we answer that question, I have a gold nugget of truth for you. I dug this gem out of the ground of painful life experiences that didn’t make sense at the time. (Not that they make total sense even now!)

Here it is:

The life experiences that wounded our hearts set us on the path to true Life. The losses, disappointments and sorrow are the strong hands that guide us to abundant life.

When we experience the abundant life, we look back over those tough times. We are grateful for those “grace gifts” of pain that opened our hearts to seek Life and not settle for anything less.

After years and years of struggling with those “grace gifts,” I can honestly say that I am grateful that my Lord used them to bring me to Life.

The abundant life is for now, not life after we get to heaven. Oh, the joy and love that can be ours in the present!

The life Jesus died to give you is far greater than any other life you could plan for yourself.

I invite you to think about 2 things.

  1. What are the “grace gifts” in your life that the Lord is using to lead you to the abundant life that He promised to give you?

The Lord used shattered dreams to lead me to Life.

  1. What is this abundant life? 

Listen to Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17:3:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

The abundant life is knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son through the Holy Spirit. The life Jesus died to give you is an intimate love relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Meditate on these verses that tell us what Life is:

Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, ESV)

 

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4, ESV).

 

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).

Come alive in the Lord who gave Himself for you! He is your Life! May you be transformed as your mind is renewed by the truth of your identity in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?