Thoughts, Truth

Made to Soar

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy rains. Unending love, amazing grace.” © 2006 worshiptogether.com songs, sixsteps Music, Vamos Publishing / Artist: Chris Tomlin

I am not a person given to visions or vivid dreams but as I was leading worship the other day at church I had a flash, a little mini movie, if you will. I was singing Chris Tomlin’s song Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). As I got to the chorus I saw a majestic eagle in the middle of a field. He was perched in the back of a wire cage with the door standing wide open. Just sitting there.

When wild animals are injured they are sometimes kept among humans for rehabilitation. I have watched many wildlife shows where they release these animals back in to the wild.  There is nothing more thrilling than to see a beautiful creature do what it was created to do and be who it was created to be. You would think it would just take off once given the opportunity, and some do. But others have forgotten what it is to be free.  Once an animal is among humans for a while it can forget what it was made for. It can get used to the status quo. As I saw that mighty eagle in the cage I heard these words. “He doesn’t know he’s free.”

That can be true of so many Christians, myself included. We might know in our heads that we are free. We might have even memorized the verses that tell us so, but in our heart of hearts we are bound. We stand at the door of life, staring longingly at the beauty beyond our cage. Not knowing that all we have to do is walk through it into the freedom Christ won for us with His death and resurrection. John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Did Christ make us free? Yes! Then we are certainly free indeed! Galatians 2:20 tells us “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  There is no sickness, no poverty, no disease, No drug or alcohol addiction, no depression, no eating disorder, no fear of man, nor any other form of bondage that can hold us down. We just have to believe what God’s word says on the matter. And not only believe but act on it.

Colossians 2:13-15 gives us this amazing news, “and you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” In other words: the enemy has been defeated and humiliated, our chains have been broken, our sins have been forgiven and blotted out. He has flung our prison door wide. The only thing between us and realizing the freedom Christ intends for us is the person we stare at in the mirror every morning. Its time for the Word of God to become real to us. Oh my friends, its time to soar.

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Thoughts, Truth

Choices

Choices. We often think that our choices have no bearing or affect on other people. That our choices only affect ourselves. That is so far from the truth. I was talking with my daughter the other day about how important our choices are. We talked about the story in 1 Samuel 15 in which Saul was instructed to go up against the Amalekites and destroy them. In verse 3 Samuel instructs Saul to, “Attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” But Saul did not obey. He kept the king of the Amalekites alive and he took the best of the flock to sacrifice to the Lord. Was it wrong that Saul should desire to honor the Lord with a sacrifice? No. But his instructions were to leave nothing of the Amalekites alive.

The key to this whole passage lies in 1 Samuel 15:22 when Samuel tells Saul, “Has the Lord a great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” Samuel then prophesies to Saul that God will remove him as king, that the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to another. 20 years later, Saul is killed in battle along with his sons and the prophecy is fulfilled. The irony? Saul’s death blow was delivered by an Amalekite. Saul’s disobedience not only affected him and his family, but the ripple affect was felt generations later. Hundreds of years passed before the affects were felt by a woman named Esther. Her people, exiled in Babylon, were threatened by a descendant of the Amalekite king, a murderous man named Haman. Haman took it upon himself to attempt to annihilate the entire the Jewish nation. But for the bravery of Queen Esther, he would have succeeded where Saul failed. Our choices, good and bad, can be felt for generations upon generations.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus had a choice when He went to the cross. He said in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Jesus spent all night in the garden of Gethsemane surrendering His will to the Father’s. Praying for another way to accomplish what God required of Him. If it were not His choice to make, I doubt He would have sweat great drops of blood in making it. If it were just a mindless act for Him it would not have been difficult. He had to choose to go the cross, knowing what would happen to Him. Knowing that his body would be broken for us. Knowing that He would be reviled and ridiculed. And most excruciatingly, that His Father would be required to turn his back on Him as our sin weighed heavy on His shoulders. But still Jesus chose obedience. And in His obedience the ripple effect can be felt 2,000 years later. Jesus’ decision to obey brought millions upon millions into relationship with the Father.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” Like Saul and Jesus, our decisions will continue to speak long after we are gone. Choose life!

Thoughts, Truth

Take it to Heart

It’s sad when you have to visit your own blog to remember the last time you posted. This year has been one long battle of the mind. In some of my previous blogs I have written about the loss of our baby girl in July 2013. Well, in January 2014 we found out we were expecting again and I am ecstatic to announce that our little Sophia Hope joined our family on September 5th.


God truly will redeem any situation. I can say that because He has done it time and time again in my life. I said last year was a battle because, as anyone who has been pregnant after a loss can tell you, it is hard to keep your mind from going to “that” place. That’s why it is so important to have the word of God hidden in your heart. Our best example in this life is Jesus. He came and lived this life as an ordinary man walking in the power of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, what did he use as his weapon? When Satan taunted him, he responded with God’s word. In Matthew 4:9-11 “Satan said, ‘All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Side note: It’s interesting to note that Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world. How could Satan offer that if he didn’t have it to give? The earth was under the sway of the wicked one, thanks to Adam, until Jesus bought it back with his death and resurrection.) It is written. If Jesus overcame by the word of God, and His life was meant to be an example for us, then that should be our first line of defense when the fiery darts of the enemy start rushing toward us. It’s called a sword for a reason, use it. But a skilled swordsman doesn’t just whack at things. He learns every aspect of his craft and hits what he aims for. It’s important for us to not just read the Bible. We must know it.

Thoughts, Truth

Bent, Not Broken

This week marks my 16th week of pregnancy. Little Bean is growing right on schedule for his or her September 11th due date. I have found it hard through this pregnancy not to think back to last summer when at 16 weeks we found out the little girl we were expecting had died a week before. So I reminisce, not to grieve, but to wonder at how God has brought us through. Closer. Stronger. More sure of God’s promises and plan than ever.

I find my self pondering on the shepherd boy and future king David—when his father sent him with food for his brothers who were on the front line of battle. As David approached to greet his brothers he heard Goliath—who for 40 days had been berating the Israelite army. As the mocking of the Philistine giant fell on David’s ears, an indignation filled him. In 1 Samuel 17:26 he asked the question, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” We should be just as indignant when anything or anyone seeks to exalt themselves over the word and the promise of the Lord. The Israelites were the army of the Lord, the chosen people. We, however, are literally the children of the one true King. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. When Jesus died and rose again He was seated at the right hand of God the Father. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:13-14 NKJV) When we stand against an enemy, we stand in His righteousness and authority. There is nothing, absolutely nothing—be it sickness, disease, poverty, addiction, depression, or anything else—that has the right to defy us if we dwell in the secret place mentioned in Psalm 91. When David stood he used what he had and trusted God do the rest. Ephesians 6:10 tell us “to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” When we stand—we stand on what God has already done. He has already provided our healing, our provision, our deliverance, our redemption. So we stand, trusting that God has already provided anything and everything we have need of through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. So, what do we have? We have the promises of God sure and steadfast. He has never and will never fail. So we we stand—bending but never breaking.

Thoughts

Condemnation vs. Conviction

I think these days many people confuse condemnation with conviction. Condemnation points only to a problem, giving no answer. Conviction shows you the problem with the answer. Condemnation points only to our failures. Conviction says, “You made a mistake. You failed. Let me show you how to overcome.”

“A father disciplines those He loves…” I think I remember reading that somewhere. Conviction, like discipline doesn’t necessarily feel good but it is necessary. If neither of these existed we would have a bunch of spoiled, worthless, weak people walking around. I shudder to think of the child who is left to his own devices. I can’t number the times my mom and dad “convicted” me. Most of the time I got mad. Then after cooling off I realized they were right.

God is our Father, He certainly has the right to speak into our lives. Pastors are the authority God has placed over us on this earth, they should be able to speak into our lives. Other Christians should be free to do the same. Its what the Word of God instructs us to do, not to condemn, but to convict. When someone says something to us, instead of going into “offense” mode, why can’t we just turn the mirror on ourselves and see if there’s anything there that needs changing? If not, fine… but odds are there will be something that needs work. I have yet to find a perfect person. I have yet to find someone who has all the answers. Its time that we start acting like the grown ups that we are instead of little children. Hmmm…  I think I read that somewhere too. Oh yeah, and can we quit assuming the worst about people? Sometimes, however misguided, they can have our best interest at heart.

Thoughts, Truth

What You Really Need

About thirteen years ago I was a 22 year-old single woman working in a back office department at a major bank in downtown Seattle. There were many things in life that I was believing for—a husband, a home, and children to name a few. Some people have dreams of a certain profession but for me, nothing I could imagine ever felt more satisfying than first and foremost being a wife and a mom. And I had seen in my mind’s eye how I thought that would happen.

I don’t know where this saying comes from or who said it but I have heard that “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” That is so true. I had my future all laid out. At the time I was good friends with a family that had a son my age. His family loved me and we got along well. I had made it up in my mind, not even really having romantic feelings for this young man, that this is what God had in store for me. He was a Christian, I was a Christian. I loved his sisters as my own. I could make this work.

At the time, I was living in Tacoma and commuted to Seattle. I had to catch my bus by 6:00am to make it to work by 8:00am. So I used those two hours for my devotions and prayer time. There was one particular day of devotions that I will never forget. The weekend before, I had spent some time at my friends’ house and the son and I were sitting at the table in the dining room talking. When the dad left the room he dimmed the lights on us. (Smooth, very smooth…)  I rationalized the situation. I settled it in my mind. But that day on the bus God took over. I was beginning to read in the book of Acts. When I got to Acts 3 it hit me like a lightning bolt. The passage begins with Peter and John going to the temple for prayer. As they walked they approached a man who had been lame since birth. As they passed him, he asked them for money. They didn’t have any to give him, instead they told him to “rise up and walk.” And he was healed from that very hour.

As I read that, God spoke to me so clearly. “Ask me for what you want, but don’t be surprised when I give you what you really need.” The lame man thought he knew what he needed—money. But God knew what he really needed—healing, provision. You can make all the plans you want for your life. But ultimately, God has the best plan for you. You can follow your own plan and it will probably be alright but it won’t be His best. I think about what I would have missed if I had followed my own will. I am so grateful I listened to His voice and followed His leading. He truly knows what we really need.

Feelings, Thoughts

Consider the Lilies

I dropped my in-laws off at the airport Monday after an awesome, week-long visit. We camped, we took part in the wonderful Washington State Fair, and we shopped until we dropped. They are such wonderful, down-to-earth, give you the shirt off their back kind of people and we always love when they visit. We hadn’t laid eyes on them in two years. (Except for FaceTime. Thanks Apple!) So when we heard they were coming we started making plans. September can be extremely beautiful in Washington State… Or it can be extremely wet and you never know which of those two extremes it will be until it’s upon you. Every plan we made took advantage of our gorgeous outdoors. Yeah, I took a chance. So when I checked the weather the week before they were set to arrive and saw rain… Rain… RAIN! All week! I will be honest. I panicked. And then I remembered my God. My God who cares about the little things. My God who set the stars in their place. My God who gave us ALL authority. And we had a little chat. I remembered who I was in Him and I stood. And would you believe we had gorgeous weather the entire time we were camping and the day we went to the Fair it was almost 80? That’s my King!

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27-40)