Uncategorized

Blue Fish Faith

I ended up with a pet fish last month. I say “ended up,” because I did not want, ask for, or like this fish. I actually do not like fish unless they have been grilled, fried or baked. I certainly do not like them looking bored in a bowl on the kitchen counter. But my sweet eight year old daughter has her daddy wrapped around his caring finger. So when the two of them ran into the pet store to grab dog food, she came back to the car proudly carrying a fish in a cup.
“Mommy! Me and Daddy bought you a pet fish!”

“Oh? Why?” 

“Because! Isn’t he so pretty? And, he was on sale!”

Well, then, if he was on sale…I would love to have another dirty animal to care for -on top of the dog, the bunny, and two leopard geckos.

“Oh, thank you, Sweet Girl. He is super pretty.”

Ugh!

I have a horrible history with pet fish. Seriously. Once I cooked my goldfish. I didn’t realize my mom had just washed the dishes with burning hot water. I filled a cup unknowingly with scalding water and carefully transfered my goldfish into it so I could clean his bowl. Within seconds, this doomed fish turned upside down, his scales white.

Poor fish. I don’t even remember his name.

So here I was, once again with the task of caring for a gilled creature. His name is London. My daughter is right. He is really pretty. London is a Betta fish with long, flowing fins circling all around him.

Two weeks in, London stopped eating. He sulked at the bottom of his bowl. His fins looked burdened and heavy. He had weird white spots. I actually felt sad! I needed to find out if I could help London. I had a responsibility to keep this fish alive.

For one thing, it was a gift from my daughter.
Second, I wanted to somehow redeem myself for murdering what’s-his-name all those years ago.

I Googled, “What to do if Betta fish gets sick.” I went to the pet store, bought special water drops for his water. We prayed for him as a family at dinner. 

While washing dishes a few days later, something caught my attention. A bright blue, poetic-like thrashing called me to London’s bowl. He was at the water’s surface, fins fanned and dancing around his body. He was hungry! I dropped one small fish food pellet in at a time. He literally jumped up out of the water to catch the first one. He was ravenous. He shimmied and waited intently for more. He was healthy again.

Believe it or not, God’s Spirit spoke to me as I fed this silly little fish. He has been chasing me down with a verse from the Psalms for months. It’s been in random worship songs I chose to listen to for the first time, and every podcast I’ve decided to turn on. My daughter even wrote her own devotional using the same verse. When I cleaned out the garage last week, I opened a devotional and on the top of the page was this same verse…again.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” Psalm 34:8

My response to His prompting through this verse had been, “Yes, Lord, I know You are good. You are so good.”  But, as I watched how breathtaking this fish was when he was hungry, deeper truth whispered to me. Just as London had become gorgeous in his hunger, we are gorgeous in our Father’s eyes when we hunger for Him. He is longing for us to hover at the top of every moment, intently waiting to receive from Him.

In order for me to truly taste the full goodness of God, I must first be hungry for Him. Not just hungry, but ravenous. Ravenous for His Word, His presence, His direction, His love. I must be swimming to the top of my prayer life, jumping out in faith to taste His goodness.

If God looks upon me and I’m sulking at the bottom of my day – with no desire to taste His goodness, no desire to be nourished by His Word – it is an indication that I am spiritually sick.

How can we taste of God’s goodness if we are not coming to His table to eat? And, why would we come to His table if we weren’t hungry? We are not called to come to His table as an afterthought. We would not insult a host by filling up on a meal we cooked ourselves before we went to their home for dinner. In the same way, we owe God our full appetite.  What had I been filling my soul with BEFORE coming to the Lord’s table? Was I leaving only enough space in my spiritual stomach for a small sampling of the Lord’s goodness?

Our mighty God is not an appetizer.  

He is not a dessert to finish our day with.

His very Word, His presence, His love is to be the bread that sustains me all day, every day. Nothing else. The more we eat, the more our stomachs stretch. The Lord will only fill us with what we have made room for. The more we come to be filled by Him, the greater and fuller the filling will become. Our stomachs will grow, our appetites will multiply.

As we become more ravenous for the Lord, those around us take notice. Just like London’s movement at the top of his bowl made me put down my sponge and watch.  London is healthy, full of color and life. This is how God intended him to be.

God has designed His children to make the world stop and stare. The world should look at God’s children and ask, “What are they so hungry for? What makes them so passionate that they would jump up out of the mire of life to reach for more?” And, when others ask, we will have an answer for them. Not only an answer, but we will pull up a chair and invite them to taste and see that the Lord is good.

My husband teases me, “God wanted to teach you to have blue fish faith”

Cute. But if he buys me another fish, it’s going in the frying pan. Just sayin’.

 

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adoption, Christianity, motherhood, Uncategorized

Resurrecting Love

‘With much prayer and consideration, we have decided to close our International Adoption Program in Ghana…’

I read the email again. I felt nothing. I tried…but nope. Nothing.

Three years of working towards International Adoption, shot down with a bullet-like, single, sentence. Fifteen thousand dollars, non-refundable, seemed a single cent up against the late night prayers, longing hopes and maybe baby names scribbled on the edge of my journal pages…all, non-refundable. The hundreds of times I glanced at our family photo hanging on our red wall, imagining a beautiful brown-skinned girl sandwiched between me and Eli. There was just enough space there for her, I thought. When we get matched, I can Photoshop her in! I wanted her to know she was always with us, even before we even met her.

We knew there were five children ready to be dispensed to families in the program. We were number three on the list. It was just a matter of time before we received the file with our child’s photo tucked inside. But all it takes is a new person in power sitting at the adoption desk, to halt these international adoptions.

Just. Like. That. These five children, who had no other living relatives that could care for them; no one who wanted them in their own country, were left frozen in an orphanage. Across the sea, there were five, waiting families frozen in shock.

We planned on naming her Zellie Anne Hope. Zellie was short for Gizelle; which means ‘a pledge’. Aaron and I were pledging to God that we would care and defend the cause of the orphan, and our precious, ransomed daughter. Anne; honoring Aaron’s Mom who passed away unexpectedly 5 years ago. Hope; because that is what people would see when we walked hand in hand in Trader Joes.

All of these imaginings: Non-refundable. Two nights later, I sat on the floor, holding all of these thoughts like a sack of potatoes; heavy and awkward to manage for my small frame.

Ok God, you shut that door, but what do I do with all THIS? All these things I can’t return, I can’t get back. It feels like I’ve wasted so much on something that wasn’t even real.
I wish I had a poetic way of describing how I felt, but the truth is, I was sad. Just so, so sad. Deep, I’m so heavy, I may crush-and -crack -the -floor -beneath- me, kind of sad. The truth is, I am still sad over this loss. It feels like a death to me.

Jesus knows a thing or two about death. He knows a thing or two about resurrection, too.

Sometimes, he allows death, to show us he has the power to resurrect. He loves us that much.

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea” (John 11: 3-7 NIV).

Catch this: Jesus chose to stay where he was two more days. If Jesus had gone to Lazarus as soon as he heard he was sick, he could have made it in time to heal him. He would not have died. Even Martha says this to him when he comes, “Lord…if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22).

But, he did die. Jesus knew he would; he intentionally waited until Lazarus was buried in a tomb. But why did he wait? The Bible tells us one reason in the preceding sentence, “Now, Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, SO…he stayed where he was two more days”.

In other words: Jesus loved them, so he allowed death. This side of heaven, this is a hard truth to comprehend.

In this specific instance, Jesus chose to resurrect the dead. He did this so the disciples traveling with him would believe in his power, “for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:15). But what about Martha? She already believed, saying, “I know that even now God will give whatever you ask”.

Could it be, he allowed the death not to show her his resurrecting power, but his resurrecting love?

“When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see’.  Jesus wept” (John 11: 33-35).

Martha witnessed the man she confessed to be, “Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27), moved with compassion.

She watched the King of the World, the Alpha & Omega, the Saving Messiah, the Creator of all things: Weep.

I find this to be more powerful than the resurrection of a dead man.

I find this to be more powerful than the resurrection of our adoption dream.

We have a God who mourns with us.

Martha did not ask Jesus to come. She sent a messenger to tell him her problem. I imagine she knew he would come.  It appears Martha didn’t expect an earthly resurrection at that moment (John 11:24). But, she did expect Jesus.
We may expectantly pray for Jesus to resurrect certain things in our life. But in most cases, that is not what we really need. What we really need, is Jesus to come.
We need to understand that he is deeply moved with compassion for us. We need to see that he is willing to sit next to us and cry.

I do not know if God will allow adoption in our lives. It is a confusing time for us. I used to pray that he would resurrect this situation and blow me away by opening doors in Ghana again, or in the U.S.A., or anywhere! These prayers were not bad. But my heart and focus have shifted. He has heard my ‘problem’, and he has come. Jesus is with me. He has shown he is deeply moved in his spirit for me. He has wept with me.

Oh, I still believe Jesus has the power to resurrect this situation! But let me clear, the King of the World has wrapped his arms around me and whispered: I have come. I see you. Let me cry with you. I love you.

When all is stripped away, the only resurrection that matters is HIS. I trust him in all things. In death, in resurrection, in the waiting. I trust that whatever he allows, is because he wants more people to witness his compassionate love and faithfulness. So I write this to declare, even when I don’t understand his ways: My God is good! My God is with me!

 

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Having several women in my life who have experienced domestic abuse, both physical and verbal, it is impossible not to have compassion for them. My heart breaks, my spirit ebbs and flows to try and speak hope and life into their situation. The church is divided on how to address this issue in many cases. I was hashing out thoughts with one of my best friends. I voiced my struggle, “The hard thing is, it is easy to love the victim and want to help them…and we should! But as much as it disgusts our human minds at times, Jesus died on the cross for the abuser too. We are called to love and restore the abuser, not just the victim. THAT is the truth of how deep the love of Jesus is. THAT is the test of how much we look like him”. My friends eyes welled up as she pushed out the hushed words, “Jenna, when I hear you say that, I think of my abortion and...it’s like…I was that abuser. I was that murderer.” My eyes burned back tears. Oh, how I love her. My, godly, courageous, beautifully restored friend. Yes. We are all the abuser. We are all the murderer. We are all that thief on the cross who needs saving. My best friend, who had carried the shame for so long, needed the people of God to love like Jesus and say, Come in, there is love here for you. There is forgiveness here for you. There is restoration. There is freedom. Jesus can change anyone. No one on earth was excluded from the work done on the cross. It hit me: If I feel disgusted that Jesus even offers salvation to vile offenders, then I have no real sense of who I was before Jesus saved me. Bill Hybels reminds us, “You have never looked into the eyes of someone who does not matter to God”. Seriously, this quote. I’ve used it to test my level of understanding of the love of Christ. I’ve held up photos of Hitler, looked into his empty eyes and said out loud, You will never look into the eyes of a person Jesus didn’t die for. There is no evidence that Hitler ever accepted this gift of salvation of course, but was it offered? Yes, by the work of the cross. I only go to this uncomfortable extreme, because, how do we understand how deep and wide the love of Christ? How will we ever be able to understand the power of his blood on the cross? Jesus paid it ALL. Jesus paid it ALL. ALL to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow. Do I believe he has the power to do that? For me? For Hitler? For the wife beater down the street? Are we intentional in seeking after abusers who want change, saying, There is hope for you! It is imperative that we crowd around the people they have hurt, offering them a safe place to stay. Let us not diminish our distinct, urgent call to aid and protect the abused! But then what of the offender? Do we never look back? What if Ananias did not go to see Paul after he had been blinded on the road to Damascus? Here was a man who was overseeing the murder and persecution of Christians. Paul was an abuser; possibly a murderer. God knew it would be hard for Ananias to believe such a vile man could change. He graciously spoke to Ananias in a vision instructing him to care for Paul because he was God’s ‘chosen instrument’(Acts 9:15). What if he had not been obedient to care for Paul? What if he refused to go heal him as God instructed? What if he did not believe God could restore a, man like that. Without realizing it, Ananias was a huge catalyst in the spreading of the gospel and the writing of the New Testament. All because he trusted God’s power and was obedient. He was one of the first people to offer Paul the tangible acceptance of Christ after his radial conversion, even referring to him as, brother. There are two forces at work here. The most significant being, the work of God himself. God blinded Saul with his power. God must do the work to bring someone to repentance. Ananias had no power to bring Paul to faith. The second is also the work of God, but, it is him working through his people. He used one of his people to give Paul back his sight. We have a role to play. We must understand God has called us to participate in the restoration of others--no matter their offenses. I think of my best friend and what a powerhouse of God’s love she is. God is moving and using her life in crazy, beautiful ways to bless others. And it makes me think, what would the kingdom of God looked like without her? The answer: not the same. Jesus crafted a role just for her. In His power, I foresee her moving mountains. I have no doubt God will partner with her to bring restoration to other women. She will have the honor of acting as an Ananias. What if she had been left to her condemnation? What if she remained in the shadows and believed her name was ‘murderer’? What if Paul remained the same way?! What if Ananias never said to him: “Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here- has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Oh, Satan would have loved for Ananias to keep silent. He wants all God’s children to remain blind to their divine purposes. He wants us to keep our old names. Remember, Satan is forever bound to his name, which means, ‘the accuser’. He wants us to be forever bound to our condemning names as well. We should not listen to him. We should listen to one whose name means, “God Saves”; our precious savior, Jesus. He tells us the truth of who we are, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John:31). Let us not be silent regarding this truth. Pull the people around you closer to the foot of the cross. Show them their new name carved into the wood. On the days they forget who are they are, engage in the work of restoration. Take them by the hand and go back to the foot of the cross. Find your new names. Say them out loud. Praise God!
Christianity, Uncategorized

Restoration Offered to All

Having several women in my life who have experienced domestic abuse, both physical and verbal, it is impossible not to have compassion for them. My heart breaks, my spirit ebbs and flows to try and speak hope and life into their situation. The church is divided on how to address this issue in many cases. I was hashing out thoughts with one of my best friends. I voiced my struggle, “The hard thing is, it is easy to love the victim and want to help them…and we should! But as much as it disgusts our human minds at times, Jesus died on the cross for the abuser, too. We are called to love and restore the abuser, not just the victim. THAT is the truth of how deep the love of Jesus is. THAT is the test of how much we look like him”. My friends eyes welled up as she pushed out the hushed words, “Jenna,  when I hear you say that. I think of my abortion and…it’s like…I was that abuser. I was that murderer.” 

My eyes burned back tears. Oh, how I love her. My, godly, courageous, beautifully restored friend. Yes. We are all the abuser. We are all the murderer. We are all that thief on the cross who needs saving. My best friend, who had carried the pain for so long, needed the people of God to love like Jesus and say, Come in, there is love here for you. There is forgiveness here for you. There is restoration. There is freedom. 

Jesus can change anyone. No one on earth was excluded from the work done on the cross. It hit me: If I feel disgusted that Jesus even offers salvation to vile offenders, then I have no real sense of who I was before Jesus saved me. Bill Hybels reminds us, “You have never looked into the eyes of someone who does not matter to God”.

Seriously, this quote.

I’ve used it to test my level of understanding of the love of Christ. I’ve held up photos of Hitler, looked into his empty eyes and said out loud, You will never look into the eyes of a person Jesus didn’t die for. There is no evidence that Hitler ever accepted this gift of salvation, but was it offered? Yes, by the work of the cross. I only go to this uncomfortable extreme, because, how do we understand how deep and wide the love of Christ? How will we ever be able to understand the power of his blood on the cross?

Jesus paid it ALL. Jesus paid it ALL.
ALL to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Do I believe he has the power to do that?

For me?

For Hitler?

For the wife beater down the street?

Are we intentional in seeking after abusers who want change, saying, There is hope for you! It is imperative that we crowd around the people they have hurt, offering them a safe place to stay. Let us not diminish our distinct, urgent call to aid and protect the abused! But then, what of the offender? Do we never look back?

The intent of this specific blog is not to give direction on how to restore each specific, abusive person (that would entail a book). This is not how...but an offering as to why we must engage in the work. 

What if Ananias did not go to see Paul after he had been blinded on the road to Damascus? Paul was a man who was overseeing the murder and persecution of Christians. Paul was an abuser; possibly a murderer. God knew it would be hard for Ananias to believe such a vile man could change. He graciously spoke to Ananias in a vision instructing him to care for Paul because he was God’s ‘chosen instrument’(Acts 9:15). What if he had not been obedient to care for Paul? What if he refused to go heal him as God instructed? What if he did not believe God could restore a, man like that.

Without realizing it, Ananias was a huge catalyst in the spreading of the gospel and the writing of the New Testament. All because he trusted God’s power and was obedient. He was one of the first people to offer Paul the tangible acceptance of Christ after his radical conversion, even referring to him as, brother.
There are two forces at work here. The most significant being, the work of God himself. God blinded Saul with his power. God must do the work to bring someone to repentance. Ananias had no power to bring Paul to faith. The second is also the work of God, but, it is him working through his people. He used one of his people to give Paul back his sight. We have a role to play. We must understand God has called us to participate in the restoration of others–no matter their offenses. 


I think of my best friend and what a powerhouse of God’s love she is. God is moving and using her life in crazy, beautiful ways to bless others. And it makes me think, what would the kingdom of God look like without her?  The answer: Not the same. Jesus crafted a role just for her. In His power, I foresee her moving mountains. I have no doubt God will partner with her to bring restoration to other women. She will have the honor of acting as an Ananias. What if she had been left to her feeling of condemnation? What if she remained in the shadows and believed her name was murderer? What if Paul remained the same way?! What if Ananias never said to him:

Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here- has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).

Oh, Satan would have loved for Ananias to keep silent.

He wants all God’s children to remain blind to their divine purposes. He wants us to keep our old names. Remember, Satan is forever bound to his name, which literally means, ‘the accuser’.  He wants us to be forever bound to our condemning names as well. We should not listen to him.

We should listen to one whose name means, “God Saves”; our precious savior, Jesus. He tells us the truth of who we are, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John:31). Let us not be silent regarding this truth.

Pull the people around you closer to the foot of the cross. Show them their new name carved into the wood. On the days they forget who are they are, engage in the work of restoration. Take them by the hand and go back to the foot of the cross. Find your new names. Say them out loud. Praise God!

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Uncategorized

No Surprise


“You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.”
 
Isaiah 26:3 


I’m sorry to say, but due to the ever-changing conditions in Ghana, the chances of bringing home an orphan anytime soon, are not looking good…

     Our social worker has such a sweet spirit, but her words were just too bitter to swallow this time. We sat on our couch and completed our Home Study update. It was hard not to think: What’s the point? We aren’t getting matched with our child soon…if ever. Having been in the international adoption process for three years now, I know better than to beat my brain with questions I will never have the answers to. Most importantly, I know not to challenge God in his wisdom. A part of me sunk when our social worker explained that a new person in power was holding all child cases back from being dispensed to waiting families. But one thing I heard above my clattering thoughts: 

Daughter, this is no surprise to me.

This was no surprise to God.

This was no surprise to God.

This was no surprise to God.

The ‘me’ two years ago, would’ve written a seemingly justified letter:

Dear God,

   DON’T YOU KNOW…

Conditions in Africa for orphans are bleak? Politics and pride are coming before the needs of children?  There are over 1 million orphans in Ghana?   We have been on the wait list for over a year now? 

All we want to do is your kingdom work…(Just in case you forgot).  

Love,

      A concerned citizen of the kingdom of God 

But not this time. Sometimes God gives us a little glimpse of how he has grown us. This was one of those gracious moments. Just the soft whisper in my spirit, ‘Daughter, this is no surprise to me’, was like an anointing of peace. It has been months since this conversation, and the peace hasn’t left me. In fact, he has allowed it to echo through my heart as new challenges have risen up. It feels like a crown he has placed on my head. It is not going anywhere. I am so in awe of this sweet gift. Peace in knowing, God is not surprised by anything, is a valuable shield against the enemy. God loves me. All his plans are for my good. All of his plans are to bring more people into his salvation kingdom. Not some of them, not most of them…ALL of them.

Every. Single. Detail. Every delay, every hitch in paperwork, every ‘roadblock’, every signature, every blessing, every trial, every person I speak to…he will use in my life for his good purposes. He will use it all to bring glory to his name. He will use it to shout of his love for the lost. Period. This is true whether I believe it or not.  

I believe it. I welcome it. I stand on it.

It is important that we read God’s word. It is imperative that we live it in our everyday circumstances.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
 
Romans 8:28 

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Christianity, Uncategorized

Refine Me.

God’s love refines me.

His love penetrates my life, it splits open my heart. It takes over like a tornado hovering over me. It rips up the fruitless trees I have planted. His love tears away at the weeds that have overtaken me.

His love whips and whirls around me in an overwhelming rush. It takes me up to his holy place to meet him face to face. It allows me to drop back down to earth and humbly cry out to him. It clears the stones embedded in the soil of my life. His love places them on God’s mighty shoulders. He throws them into the deepest sea. He fills the emptiness that remains with untamed hope.

His love is mighty; A mighty love hungry to do a mighty work. It grips me. It will not let me go. It begs me to collapse into it’s arms. It beckons me to newness. It promises to give me a new heart.
I will not run from it. I will not seek shelter against it.

His love waits relentlessly for me.

His love waits relentlessly for you.

Let your love refine me lord. Refine me.

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Christianity, Uncategorized

New…or just glued?

My New Year’s Resolution is allow myself to be new…not glued.  Sometimes, I imagine picking up the broken pieces of my life, and clumsily offering them up to God. I then imagine that he will piece them back together, making something beautiful. Well, almost beautiful. If it weren’t for all those cracks showing through the ‘glued me’…I would be stunning. Although I imagine God has put me back into some sort of functioning vase, you can still see the jagged pottery bits trying to cling gracefully together. I imagine, one little wisp of wind will send the ‘glued me’ crashing to the ground. I will shatter all over again.

But this is how I view myself. This is not how God sees me. I am not the product of a clumsy repair job. This is the nasty lie of the enemy.

We must remember what the word of God says. If we have Jesus, we are a new creation:

” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’. -2 Corinthians 5:17

The new has come. It does not say, “If anyone is in Christ, he will put them back together’. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus wants all of our broken pieces. He wants us to recognize the mess on the floor and lay our shards at his feet. But this is not so he can piece them back together. He takes the bits and pieces and exchanges them for something entirely new.

He wants to exchange our brokenness with His fullness.

Truth is, I do not want broken pieces to be a part of my life’s fabric anymore. If they are, then I am not fully a vessel of Christ. I want my heart to echo John the Baptist,
He must become greater; I must become less”( John 3:30 ).

Sometimes we like to romanticize our past hurts and mistakes. We like to think they contribute to ‘who’ we think we are. In reality, our focus should not be on WHO we are, but on WHOSE we are.

Our past decisions and experiences do not define us anymore if we are children of God. Our Father defines us. Our salvation defines us.

In Isaiah 43:18-19, God encourages his people, ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

God wants to do a new thing in us. Are we too focused on the things of the past to perceive it? Are we so focused on the repaired vase on the shelf, that we miss the brilliant new one being offered to us?

A repaired life is not a bad thing. Satan would have us happily sit in this complacent truth. He assures us, ‘Repaired is enough, it is more than you deserve‘. It is true. A repaired life is more than what we deserve. But who are we to be so bold, to dash and diminish the work of the cross?! And even more so, belittle the power of the resurrection?!

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” –Romans 6:4

We will never understand the self sacrificing, all consuming love of our Savior. We can at least understand, the foolishness of clinging to a repaired life, instead of passionately grasping a hold of a new life. A new life that our Jesus died and rose from the dead in order to pour over us. My prayer this year, is that I accept his beautifully gracious gift of a new life everyday. Everyday I want to wake up and pray, ‘Jesus, today, make me new’.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

 

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It is a hard calling to follow Jesus. Not one of us is doing it perfectly.

     ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack…” he said’.

Remember this story in Mark 10:21?  A rich young man is eager to assure Jesus he has kept all the commandments since he was a boy.  But Jesus sees he is lacking one thing.

     Sometimes I think we are eager to point out that ‘one thing’ that is lacking in the ‘Christianity’ of others.  Our judgments move so quickly, we miss the heart of Jesus.  Before Jesus spoke the words ‘one thing you lack...’, the scripture says ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him‘.

He loved him.

He did not shame him.

He loved him.

He did not shout out in ‘righteous’ anger.

 He loved him.  

He did not tell him he was an embarrassment or a ‘bad’ Christian.

He did not compare his perfect faith with the man’s lack of faith.

Before he opened his mouth: Jesus looked at him and loved him.

We are encouraged to restore each other in the spirit of

gentleness (Gal 6:1).  We are told to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).

     The young man struggled with following Jesus perfectly.  He was lacking one thing. I am lacking many!! Jesus is not ashamed of me while I wrestle.

He looks at me and loves me.

He calls me to look at others and love them in the areas they struggle too.

We are wildly imperfect in our loving others.  I am so thankful we are wildly loved by a perfect God.

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He Loved Him.

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