forgiveness

Whose Approval Do You Seek?

Posted on Updated on

“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” – Jesus (John 5:43-44)

Ouch! How often do we “receive glory” from one another – in the form of adulation, approval, applause, affirmation and adoration – and place that “glory”, or opinion, above the opinion that Christ holds of us?

We will receive the praise, and even criticisms, of man and take it to heart, allowing it to inflate our heads or damage our souls. However, when Christ says that He loves us, we question how that is possible. After all, we KNOW ourselves. And when Christ says that we are forgiven from our past and that He “remembers our sins no more” when we repent, we refuse to receive that forgiveness and, instead, allow our minds to be tortuously haunted by the enemy of our souls who would like nothing more than for us to be running scared and beaten by guilt and shame.
OR when His Holy Spirit reminds us of things in our lives that are keeping us from drawing near to Christ – or becoming more like Him – yet friends/family/society says “Its okay”, “Its no big deal”, or the ever-popular “Its your life/body do what feels right”, we receive the “glory” from man instead of the loving admonition from God… because it’s easier, more comfortable, and MUCH more pleasing to our ears and ego.

As long as our most valuable approval comes from men then we will never, not EVER, recognize and relax in who God created us to be. Which means that we will never, not EVER, be comfortable in our own skin or with our own unique set of gifts/talents.
What a miserable way to live… constantly changing opinions, convictions, and even appearance, to avoid being beaten around the head by the ever-wavering opinions of man.

_________________________________________________________
Regarding our pasts:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:13-16

In other words He KNOWs us better than we know ourselves

Regarding our value to Him:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10

And although He KNOWs us – and everything we have ever done or said – He still sacrificed Christ for us

Regarding His love for us:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

He loves us and – despite things that we have said or done that may have wounded His heart or the hearts and lives of others – He never stops loving us.

Regarding His sacrifice for us:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED…..For by grace you have been saved through faith. And THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)

No, we truly didn’t deserve His sacrifice. Yet He gave His own life for us – in our undeserving state – because of His great love. If we deserved it, or could earn it, then Christ’s sacrifice was for naught.

Regarding our “nows” and our futures:
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

And when we receive His undeserved GRACE and FORGIVENESS, and commit our lives to following His will… not perfectly, but with the purpose of becoming like Him… then our past is no longer thought of by Him

_________________________________________________________

When we open our hearts and minds to understand that Christ GAVE Himself up to one of the most painful, shameful, “senseless” deaths in order that we might recognize how very much He treasures us, what sense does it make to seek the adulation… the “glory”… of man instead of the approval of God?

And why put the words/opinions of man above the words/opinions of God – Who gave all that we might rest in who HE created us to be?

In Galatians 1:10 Paul writes: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Go back and read Romans 8:28-29 again……..  Seriously.  Go read it…….

These 2 verses remind us that there is nothing that we can do to change how very much we are loved by Christ.
The love of man changes as quickly as the seasons and is as unstable as the winds.
The love of God never wavers.

Receive His “glory” and grace. Accept yourself how HE sees you.

Allow HIS opinion to be what governs your mind, will, emotions, actions, and speech. You may find yourself enjoying the freedom. I pray that you will. ❤

Advertisements

We All Are Peter

Posted on Updated on

Ever read a scripture passage that reached into your soul a grabbed hold with an iron grip as if to say “Pay attention to me! I have something for you!”?

This past week I was reading and came across a passage like this. When the women had gone to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, they encountered a man who told them Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” – Mark 16:6-7

Go and tell His disciples…. and Peter.  In my mind this implied that Peter was being mentioned separately from the disciples possibly due to his sin of denying Christ 3x.

However, every Commentary that I read indicated otherwise.  They all agreed that Peter was not be distinguished from the disciples, but instead was Peter was being singled out to assure that he was informed along with the other disciples… to guarantee that he was included in this report of Christ’s resurrection and His promise that He would come to them again.

Peter’s name was called out to make certain that he knew he was included in the invitation to meet with Christ once again.

I can only imagine how his heart must have skipped when his name was called.  Such a mixture of excitement, anticipation, fear, and guilt.  He had, after all, sworn and uttered curses as he denied even knowing who Christ was in the midst of the God-man’s most physically/emotionally demanding… potentially damaging… days on Earth.  He had abandoned Christ. Turned his back on the Christ that he had walked with, talked with, ate with, slept beside, been taught by, and even been called by.  Peter had refused to acknowledge the One Who had – with all patience and understanding – seen the potential in Peter’s strong-will, brash personality, and impulsivity.

Peter had sworn he knew no such man called “Christ”. Three. Scandalous. Times.

And yet, Peter was being called out by the same, Christ, and acknowledged as His in the presence of all the other disciples… who, most assuredly, knew of his shameful denials.

Scripture later records that Christ appeared to the disciples when they were fishing and John recognized Who was on the shore. And rather than waiting for the rest of the disciples to row there in their boat – for that would take to long –  Peter jumped from the boat and began to swim to shore (is it any wonder with his impulsive nature?).  He wanted to be in the presence of Jesus.

Christ waited until all the disciples were together and had shared a meal.  He then called Peter’s name again. He singled him out once again in the presence of the others.  Imagine… “Peter?”

Was He going to rebuke Peter for his sinful, slap in the face, spurning?  Would he point out how Peter had denied Him and then, publicly, announce that he was no longer chosen to represent Christ?  After all, how could he?

How could Christ, in all good conscience, allow Peter to represent Him and His cause knowing that Peter had stood before many and, cursing and swearing, joined in His ridicule and refused to acknowledge his relationship with Him ?  How could the hand of God continue to anoint Peter’s life with such a blatant rejection?  So many thoughts and emotions must have been leaving footprints on Peter’s mind and heart.

“Peter”  “Yes, Lord?”

“Do you love me?”

Three times Christ asked if Peter loved Him. Scripture says that Peter was hurt because Christ asked him the third time.  Could it have been another painful reminder of Peter’s 3 rebuffs?

“Lord, You know all things.  You know that I love You”

And Christ, for the 3rd time, reaffirmed Peter’s calling to “feed My lambs”… to minister to those who are lost and hurting… to those who have no Shepherd.

“Lord, You know all things”…..

Indeed He does.

Christ knows all things.  He knows that we are human.  He knows that we make mistakes.  He knows that we even, at times, reject or spurn His place in our life with our actions and/or words.  He knows.

And yet, just like Peter, He continues to call out our name.  He continues to let us know that if our heart is still trying to find Him through the dense fog of shame that can cloud our view of Him… if we are still seeking His light in the midst of our own mental and emotional darkness… if we are willing to jump out of the boat and “swim” towards Him – not waiting for things to be just right or others to come along with us… if our response is that pain-filled, guilt-ridden, cry of “Lord, you know all things.  You KNOW that I love you”… then, in spite of our sin, He calls out our name and reminds us that we remain called, appointed, chosen, His.

 

Such marvelous Grace.

 

GraceLand

Video Posted on Updated on

I’ve sat this evening and pondered on the God-given, mercy-motivated, heart-full-of-love induced, grace that has been offered to me… and to you. And I have wondered…

Where could I be? Where SHOULD I be? Where would I be without it?

I could still be neck deep in the mistake-laden quicksand that has been my past. Struggling and striving to pull myself out of the muck and mire, yet also wanting to let the depths swallow me as I give up the fight with the darkness.

I should be lying stripped and marred in the dust by the side of life’s fractured and fragmented highway. Ashamed to lift my head because of the bruises and violent handprints from the times that I’ve been beaten up by the enemy.

I would be still wounded, insecure, looking for an enemy, while plodding through the day-to-day. I would be barely able to stand from the weight of rejection and fear of the self-perceived ugliness in the mirror.

If I dwelt upon my coulda, shoulda, woulda’s, I could – realistically – reasonably – relinquish hope for a joyful, purposeful, impacting existance. There would be no shame or blame in pitching a tent and deciding to resign and retire from life… if my coulda, shoulda, woulda’s were all that there was in my earth-encumbered journey.
But for the grace of God.

The God of grace observed every mistake I would make, before I existed. He had prior knowledge of what a damaged, baggage carrying, woman I would become. He was fully aware of how hard and fast I would run away from Him because I was furious at the injustice of life, unreliability of human love, and the injurious nature of ministry. And yet He saw me as precious and worthy of Him.
His heart-borne, blood-spilled, love-filled, grace opens its gates and allows me to walk through – with my head held high in spite of where I’ve been – and rest in the meadows of His forgiveness and peace. He will repair the brokenness in my bones, and the winds of His breath will restore life to my soul. If I am willing, the rivers of His Spirit will soothe my wounds and then stir me to action with the gifts and talents that HE created within me – to lead others into this place of safety. This dwelling in peace.

This… GraceLand where He is King.

Such and amazing place of grace.

 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. – Romans 5:1-2

Own It

Posted on Updated on

own it
Ever been blindsided by anger from someone who has misconstrued or assumed something you’ve done or said?  Unexpected, angry words hurl toward you like bullets in a drive-by, causing you to duck and cover internally in order to protect yourself.  Or, your response could be as someone who has been wounded and scarred by life and abuse and so you retaliate, firing back your own volley of venom-filled verbosity while you defend your honor and pride.

Perhaps the warrior of words has been you.  How many times have you been the violent instigator of your neighbor’s wounds because you mentally created scenarios of wrong-doing or imagined them aiming at target-shaped bull’s-eyes on your happiness or character?  So you fire off a round of white hot insults and accusations, causing soul-trauma to the victim of your word weaponry.

Any of this sound familiar?

Most of us can identify with both. Although we’ve all, most likely, been the victim of someone’s harsh and sudden criticism or irritation, we’ve also all dealt our share of oral outrage. We’ve been both the casualty of a verbal violation and the trigger happy dispatcher of uttered ammunition – probably more than once – in our lifetimes.

Truth be told, it gives us satisfaction and gratification to get things off our chest… to spew our sarcasm or anger-laden speech all over someone else.  We may even delight in the fact that our diatribe has suddenly stunned them into silence and our pride increases and ego inflates.

For some, that feeling of superior euphoria is short-lived.  There is recognition that the momentary verbose vindication deflated the spirit of another God-imagined, hand-crafted masterpiece.  The light has been extinguished from their eyes.  Their soul is wounded. Auditory arrows have been shot into their hearts and it grieves to the core.

For others, the personal pleasure and pride continues to grow.  There is refusal to admit any wrong.  Dialectical damage is ignored and the journey goes on, one day at a time, leaving bruised and battered beings in the dust… behind… where they cannot be seen.

Time to put the big girl panties, or the big boy drawers, on.

Time to own it.  Own the fact that we do, at times, allow ourselves to be used as tools of the enemy.  Time for all of us to stop playing the marred martyr and instead man – or woman – up.  Take responsibility for our own words. Admit that we have not, will not, choose to control our tongues when we are offended or anticipating attack… no matter how figmental that attack may be. Confess that we, at times, put our own need for one-upmanship over relationships and recognition of God-value in every human being.

After owning our sinful, spiteful, hateful motivations behind our agitated outbursts – and asking the God who created our targets for forgiveness – we owe a heart-felt, care-filled apology to those we’ve wounded. They deserve to have their dignity restored as we humble ourselves and acknowledge our vainglorious frenzy.  No excuses. No justification-filled reasoning.  No lengthy dissertations. Excessive words marked the genesis of this injured exchange. So keep it simple. Make an offering of a  few honest, authentic, apologetic words. This primes us, and those around us, for maturity – and allows opportunity for restoration and healing in the souls of all involved.

Own it.

Admit it.

Repent.

Apologize.

 ________________________________________________________

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires….26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. – James 1:19-20, 26

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 …Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!….17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:7-18

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

Spiritual Anorexia

Posted on Updated on

Spiritual anorexia.  An unhealthy, yet seemingly common, condition.

An anorexic is one who stops feeding self and becomes dangerously thin.  Skin and bones.  Flesh without meat.

The anorexic’s perception is skewed.  When an anorexic sees self in the mirror, they see fat – fullness – breadth -weight.  They see substance that is, in reality, not there.  Unfortunately, there are many Christians who do the same.

In themselves they see “fatness”, spiritual health, substance – and they often want others to know of their great and divine girth.  There’s boasting of more depth in their life, more knowledge, more revelation and insight.  Greater relationship with God, greater “fullness of the Spirit”, greater capacity for the “meat” of the Word.  These are the points for applause in their lives.

However, the great, spiritually fat and healthy picture that they see in the mirror is in contrast to what others see.  In the life of a “full-blown” spiritual anorexic, their own words may be the only things that are, indeed, grand and swelling.

If the fruit borne in day-to-day living does not reflect the heart and character of God then the facade of spirituality is demolished.  The supposed substance and meat are stripped off to reveal an unhealthy heart surrounded by diseased flesh and dry bones – an empty life disguised behind inflated words and a swelled head.  And when the exterior is peeled away and the heart is truly laid bare, the inner health of a person is ultimately revealed through everyday life and actions.

James 1:22-24 speaks of a person who looks at himself in a mirror, steps away from the mirror, and immediately forgets what he really looks like.  Why?  Because he listens to “the Word” but chooses not to act on it.  Thus he deceives himself.  So goes the spiritual anorexic.

But at times we may all suffer from a degree of Spiritual Anorexia.  We look into the mirror of scripture and we see the truth about ourselves but distractions, excuses, or personal choice causes us to immediately forget what we’ve seen.  We pick and choose which parts we are willing to honestly see and obey.  Thus we allow ourselves to be deceived and spiritual anorexia begins to seize our heart.

Is there a cure?  Absolutely.  But the cure is not a quick or pleasant fix.  For to be cured we must be willing to examine beyond the outside, beyond the positive opinions of others, beyond the praise and affirmations that we may receive, beyond the self-elevating views that we’ve adopted.

We must delve into the depths of our own hearts, allowing the spotlight of the Holy Spirit to reveal even the deepest, darkest, innermost decaying chambers.  We must be willing to look closely and to see… truth.  And then we must be willing to repent.  To humble ourselves, admit our pride and our gross exaggerations of self, and cry out to God for Him to heal the disease within.

Kill the Beast!!

Posted on Updated on

Here they come.  You can see them outside the window of your heart as you attempt to hide. They’re gathering supporters in the dark and getting closer.  Carrying their torches and their pitchforks.  Their voices growing louder as they come near yelling.  Shouting.  Thrusting their fires of anger into the air crying “Freak!”, “Traitor!”, “Monster!”.  And then the dreaded roar as they rush forward screaming “Kill the Beast!”

Your crime?  Struggling.  Falling.  Failing at something.  Causing the way that they see you to change.  The expectations that they had of you have been shattered.  And so has your image.  How dare you defy what they believe about you?  How dare you mess up?  How dare you embarrass them?
You are now a failure.  Ugly.  A monster worthy of dragging into the streets and ridiculing – persecuting – abusing in front of the world.  You are nothing short of a hideous beast!

Ever experienced this?  You fail at something and your heart is shattered and broken.  You hide behind your pain because you are ashamed and hurt.  Struggling to forgive yourself.  And to make things even more difficult, your judges seem to be beating down the door to shame you further.  It can make for a challenging recovery.

In those times you can often count the number of those who still love you – unconditionally – even in your “beastly” state – on one hand.  But that hand is critical.  In times of falling and failure it is vital to keep hold of those who are able to look past the mistakes into your damaged heart and are willing to listen, to love, to help, heal and restore.  Whatever you do, don’t push them away.  Don’t hide from these.  Don’t ignore the hand that is reaching out to help in the midst of chaos and judgmentalism.  Grab hold and don’t let go.

And when the fires of anger have subsided – when the soul-piercing shouts of judgment become silent, when the crowd of vigilantes has disbursed and you feel safe again – walk out from the rubble.  With a humble heart, and head held high, take step after stumbling step, hand in hand with those who have been willing to endure the chaos that has resulted from your failing.  And go and tell.

Tell of the obstacles in your path, that you didn’t avoid, that brought about the stumble.  Tell of the turmoil and struggle within your own soul.  Tell of the pain and humiliation of falling… of the endurance and determination that led to recovery and restoration.  And tell of the wonder of unconditional love that has led you out from the rubble.  Your telling may be the salvation of another.

But most importantly remember.  As you see another stumble and fall, remember how you hid and watched the angry mob swarm to persecute you and resist the urge to pick up a torch of judgment and join the crowd yelling “Kill the Beast!”