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.

Truth

God is Love…Really

John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the entire Bible. It tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The passage goes on to say in verse 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” God does not merely love—He is love. He is the embodiment of that gift.

When Adam fell, instead of cutting His losses and annihilating His creation, He made a way. He sent His only Son. His only. He did not have to, but He did. And when Jesus walked this earth He could have chosen not to die. But instead He chose to do the will of the Father that we might be reconciled to Him. There is no other way back to God except through Jesus Christ.

“For I am persuaded that neither death or life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV) People have twisted this verse to support an inclusive false doctrine. It does not mean that we cannot physically and spiritually be separated from God. It means what it says—that no matter what we do or where we go He will always love us.

Parents can understand this concept. A parent’s love for their child is all-encompassing—never ending. I love my children and because I do I guide, I correct, I discipline. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:6-11 NKJV) I just have to say that again—that we may be partakers of His holiness.

What people often forget amidst the love of God is—He is love; but He is also Holy, Righteous and Just. Nothing will EVER separate us from the love of God. He will always love us. Always. But He has given us the choice—free will. Deuteronomy 30:19 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 may live.” Not only did He give us choice—He gave us the answer. Choose life!