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Monday, March 28, 2011


At first, the lies of satan are all there is so you take it as truth. You don't recognize it as anything else. It HAS to be true. It's a constant loop. Then, with time and a process, you slowly start to make the choice to start distinguishing between what's truth and what's not. But once you make the choice to stop listening to those lies, your mind STILL produces them. That's when the battle really starts. You hear something, you think something and you think "wait wait wait. I made the choice to stop acknowledging you. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE??" And then you digress because you've lost. You start to believe the lies again. And then you're reminded that hey, some things up there are unwanted and untrue and you pick up your armor to fight again. But the battle is even HARDER this time. Because the lies come STRONGER. There's a mix up there of truth and lies and you wonder why the truth feels so weak. Aren't my efforts working!? If I think hard enough, won't they go away?? You're disciplined, you read things of truth, you hear words of truth.. and things start to turn around. Some time goes by and you don't hear them for a while. AND THEN THEY COME BACK WITH A FURY. Something ignites them, one word someone says, one action done or not done and the floodgates suddenly open to a barrage of lies. This is where they've seemingly been hiding this whole time, lying in wait for your next vulnerability. They're back and this time, they're back to kill.
This time.
You surrender.
You cry out. You can't take it. You've done all you could to drive those lies out and they just aren't leaving. They've taken up permanent residence. You'll always think that way. They will always dominate.
And you give the fight away.

And Someone else takes it.
There's Someone there who's glad to take it. Who's glad you finally gave up. He takes over and His loud booming voice resonates Truth. The lies don't just scurry away.. THEY ARE WIPED CLEAN. Like a flood. And you know they're gone. The permanent homes you think they've burrowed deep are obliterated. They never stood a chance. And you look back and almost laugh at how powerful you believed those lies to be. How silly it was of you to have elevated them to truth status compared to the presence of real Truth.
Those lies have been replaced.
And you've been restored.
Your reward is the joy of being RESCUED.

Today I was faced with a choice.

Someone made an offhand comment to me today and I dove headfirst back into my old fearful way of life. It happened so fast, it caught me off guard. I spent weeks and months reading, memorizing Scripture, remembering truth, talking to community and then three little words knocked me off my feet.
As I pondered those words, I allowed myself to remember. To remember the hurt, when satan's lies were truth, when I walked into a place not believing I was accepted, when I wondered what people thought when they looked at me. I remember feeling like there was a dark cloud or blemish hanging over me without knowing how to get rid of it. I remember feeling defeated to the way my mind worked. I allowed myself to remember those chains. I remembered what that was like. I let myself go there.

And then it hit me.


I remembered being saved. I remembered all of that being redeemed. I remembered being freed. I remembered Jesus Christ dying on the cross for my past. I REMEMBERED A LITERAL FREEING, A LITERAL BREAKING FREE. I remember walking in and feeling loved. I remember knowing people saw me as daughter of Christ and I remember serving in the exact place where God called me to be. I REMEMBERED BEING FREED.

Galatians 5:1 says "For freedom Christ has set us free; STAND FIRM therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

Now that's some good news.

So I can think on the yoke of slavery I was once in.. or I can think on the good news of the cross and redemption and freedom. What am I choosing to remember?

There's a choice in that.

We honor God in our choices. He is rewarded when we remember, think, and dwell on His love, grace, and mercy. AW Tozer says, "God is going to be as pleased to have you with Him in heaven as you will be there with Him." And I believe that. I believe God is rewarded when we choose Him. He is GLORIFIED when we choose the Gospel. He is well pleased when we live for Him, in every little choice. His work on the cross is made complete when we are His witnesses now.

Jesus rescued us and freed us from sin. His death on the cross already defeated what we fight today. He is glorified when we give up the fight and surrender.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our God Reigns

God is so mysterious, isn't He? So amazing. My little pea brain can't wrap itself around Him and the way He works (although trust me, it tries). The ways in which He loves, reveals, redeems. It's all so unfathomable. I've learned to be thankful for the mystery because it makes God seem so BIG and IN CONTROL. He reigns.

I got to sit in the presence of the cross today. An actual wooden cross. For those that know me, they know my mind is my biggest struggle, the biggest way satan sidelines me. But kneeling at the cross tonight, God felt SO BIG. I sat, kneeled, prayed, read the Bible, started thinking.. and then stopped. I had this overwhelming presence of calm and safety that said "Just rest in Me. Rest. Because I AM BIGGER."

I didn't want to get up. The shadow of the cross was so big and so calm: it covered everything. My sin, my shame, my fears, my worry, my thoughts: they seemed to shrink and shrink and shrink in the presence of love.
I know I won't be able to spend time in front of a wooden cross everyday. It's about daily finding that same peace and sense of safety and having that same experience by remembering what Jesus did on that cross. It's about daily saying "I love you Jesus" and knowing I can rest in His love and promise. It's stopping, resting, filling up, remembering, rejoicing in how God reigns over all.

A friend of mine told me once that when he was in the midst of a battle and struggling with what seemed like a fight that could never be won, he read something that told him that there was hope. There was hope that his battle could be defeated. It was as simple as that, but he believed it. And it changed him. And I think about that sometimes and I think about my struggles and I remember my friend's story and I know there's hope.

There's hope because GOD IS BIGGER. He's bigger than satan and the way this world is now and He's bigger than your struggles, temptations, and problems. He reigns. There's hope because HE DIED FOR US. His work on the cross crushes satan.

There's hope because nothing is more powerful than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hear the ways in which God reveals Himself to the people I know and it. blows. my. mind. It reminds me to take God out of the little box I've subconsciously put Him in and to rejoice in the ways He is all-powerful. He is good, amazing, beautiful, redemptive.. it gives me goosebumps thinking about the way He works.

One of my favorite blog posts of all time (read it) says this: "HE REIGNS. Bottom line is, no matter what life throws at us, at the end of the day, HE IS BIGGER."

Whew. What a relief.

Isn't it so comforting going through life knowing there's someone who holds all things together, who created you, who gifted you, who knows you, who loves you enough to die to give you an eternal inheritance and reconciliation?

Grace takes away the pressure, doesn't it?

When life feels unbearable and your problems feel endless and you feel like you can't escape, believe that there's hope. And why is there hope? Because we are saved by the Gospel! We were foolish, disobedient, led astray, hating one another until the loving kindness of our Father saved us. Not by anything we did, but by His mercy. HE HAS MADE US HEIRS. He richly poured out His blood and love through Jesus Christ. We are justified by His grace (Titus 3:3-7).

When things can't be explained, He reigns. When purposeless thoughts drive you crazy, He reigns. When you feel alone, He reigns. When there's division and destruction, He reigns. When the answer isn't clear, He reigns. When it seems never-ending, He reigns. When you can't find the words, He reigns. When fear takes hold, He reigns.

He reigns because He died for you.

Hope is found in Jesus. Stop and rest in His love. Feel safe in His promises. Rest in the shadow of the cross. Remember what Jesus did there.

Have peace because our God reigns.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Missional Life

At the beginning of the week, this blog was headed in a completely different direction.

My fellow bloggers and thinkers out there, does that ever happen to you too? You have bad days and you plan to write about that, you have thoughts that consume and you plan to empty your brain through the keyboard, or sometimes you don't even see the point in writing.
I can tell when my mind is on the brink of disaster, when it's at a crossroads. Even now, I can make my thoughts teeter between devastation or life, The Gospel or fear. And that's when all the songs I know, the Scriptures I've read, the words I've heard, the truths I know, the people I love come sprinting to my rescue and cry out for me to make the right choice. They block the way to that dark tunnel of thought and I'm reminded of truth, of love, of the Gospel. I remember that sin has been defeated, Jesus is stronger, He has saved and set me free.
And I think, "I'll write about that instead!"

That's why it's so important to have your arsenal and armor ready for the moments when you need to make a choice.

And because I've made a better choice,

I started reading Acts this week. And right away it knocked me off my feet. In Acts 1, right before Jesus ascends into heaven, the disciples are gathered around Him asking if now was the time for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. But Jesus answers, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (1:6-8)."
Jesus is pretty clear about what to do with our time here, isn't He?

But. What does that look like?

My good friend Todd gave a sermon back in August on how to live when the alarm clock goes off. It's pretty awesome stuff (watch it here. now. click 'view past services' + 'one shot' series.) but he asks the question of what gets you up in the morning; what are you living for? How will you choose to live each day? Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 to live committed, faithful, compassionate lives until we die or He returns, whichever comes first. Live committed to Jesus, be faithful with what you've been given, be compassionate towards everyone. Todd challenges with the question: how will you influence the day before the day influences you?

I reflect on that now and see that means in everything. Every interaction we have, every person we encounter.. are they leaving more or less like Christ? Every situation we're in.. are we bringing Christ into it? Are our entire days being influenced by our Savior? How you talk to your co-workers, the barista at Starbucks, your spouse, your parents. How you dress, how you carry yourself. How you talk, what words you choose to say. How quick you forgive, how slow you are to anger. What you read, how you spend your free time. Who you surround yourself with, how often you ask for help.
I think we can get caught in the funk and routine of just existing. But God has called us to LIVE and to live faithfully, compassionately, and committed. In everything.
I've had conversations with friends lately as my mind has been swirling with questions-- How do you live here amidst the in your face brokenness!? What are we doing here on earth!? What does this all look like?! Part of my corner referenced Romans 8 this week and said, "We are heirs if we persevere in suffering. Our role then becomes perseverance and living as sons and daughters of God in the midst of a frustrated creation. Salt and light. We are witnesses of the coming re-creation of heaven and earth. Witnesses of God's industry to restore that which has been ruined. Without our witness, our testimony, how can people hear and know that Jesus is making all things new?"

Another crucial part of my corner added these truths.. that this earth is our home. Revelation 21 talks about a new Jerusaleum coming down out of heaven and says "behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (21:2-4)."
Emmanuel. God with us.
Heaven isn't our final resting place. Jesus is coming back to restore Eden HERE. Our jobs are to prepare: to help restore ourselves, others, and the earth for His return. Choosing, when the alarm clock goes off, to live each day as Christ lived. We've got some pretty important things to do as we live by God's timing.

(I've got a pretty great corner, don't I? People who know who this loving and just and righteous and sovereign and holy God of restoration, redemption, and resurrection is. They know Who to point me to).

So my words for you:
Community. Community. Community.
Scripture. Scripture. Scripture.
Prayer. Prayer. Prayer.

Anytime you hear a voice or have a thought that says you don't need other people and you should just crawl into yourself and be alone, run fast from it! When you get a thought that says you need a break from the Bible, take that thought captive and replace it with truth! When you hear something that says you're too busy or not worthy to approach God in prayer, flee from it! Those thoughts are not from God.
The early church in Acts 2:42-47 was a fellowship of believers who were devoted to a life of Christ. Daily they submitted to Him through Jesus and the apostles' teachings, the breaking of bread, prayer, togetherness, commonality, generosity, gracious hearts, worship, praising God.. and "THE LORD ADDED TO THEIR NUMBER DAY BY DAY THOSE WHO WERE BEING SAVED." He's sovereign in salvation. He promises new life.

When we are faithful with ourselves and with others and then we leave the rest up to Him, He is faithful in working in us. When we live out the message of the cross, we influence those around us. When we let the Gospel influence our day, we live for Christ and prepare ourselves, others, and this earth for His return.

The alarm clock went off this morning. How are you living today?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Peter and Crosby

Does anyone else watch the show Parenthood?

It's a show about a family: four kids, two grandparents, and six grandchildren. It's one of the most realistic portrayals of family life that I've seen on TV. There are awkward moments, there are fights, arguments, failures, struggles: I feel like I'm actually watching real lives rather than a story for TV.

And I think I most relate to Crosby.

Crosby is the youngest son. He's found himself oftentimes in the shadow of his older brother, Adam, the successful business and family man. Crosby can't seem to get his life together and just when he seems to get his feet on some kind of solid ground, he makes a monumental mistake and he's swooped away into instability again. He is so human.

I feel for Crosby, because I think a part of me is Crosby. His latest mistake has him estranged from his fiancee and his son and he ends up in jail after his pent up anger and frustration reach the end. I can't help but cry when his dad comes and pays his bail and Crosby cries in his arms: "I think I really messed up."

Haven't we all, Crosby?

And Peter. I feel a lot like the disciple Peter. The Peter of the Gospel of Luke is a moron, for lack of a better word. He's in the presence of Jesus, witnessing miracles, and he doesn't always seem to get it. He knows that Jesus is the Messiah, but he doesn't really know what that means. He's among the disciples when Jesus foretells his death (three times!) and he doesn't understand or see how that fits into God's plan. He witnesses the Transfiguration and asks if he can pitch two tents for Moses and Elijah (talk about missing the big picture). Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times, to which Peter responds "No, no Jesus. I got this. I'm ready to go with you." Peter denies Jesus three times.
Again and again and again he acts.. human. He's an uneducated, common man.

Lately I've been looking through the wrong lens and all I can see is sin and devastation. God made me into someone who feels and boy, am I tired of that. What I wouldn't give for a mind of someone who doesn't care about anything. How temporarily peaceful that would be. Wars, pornography, divorce, division wear. me. out. Sometimes I feel like I have a big hole in my chest and I literally live Mother Teresa's words when she prays "may God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in." Sometimes I can't stop crying.
Praying gets harder every time through that lens. It gets harder to see where God's been good. It gets harder to see hope. Life isn't a gift anymore, but ways in which we've saddened our Savior.

And it gets painful. I reach the end of myself and I crumble. I'm paralyzed by things that hurt. I'm a mess. I read back through my old journals and see the same things written, the same struggles faced. And like Crosby, I feel like one more mistake, one more event, will have me knocked off my feet again and back at square one. Like Peter, I forget what I've learned, forget what I've seen.

But I've read some things lately that have been encouraging.

My Scripture verse to memorize this week is Micah 6:8- "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" I could count on ten hands how many times I have heard or read or memorized or sung these lines (Steven Curtis Chapman's 'The Walk' anybody?).

But this time it really hit me. It was brought to my attention from Timothy Keller's book, 'Generous Justice.' Put simply, Keller says, "Micah 6:8 is a summary of how God wants us to live."
I guess what I felt most when I read it this time, for the thousandth and first time, was.. relief. Thankful for what Micah leaves out. The Lord doesn't require us to fix or to take control or to end all the world's sufferings. Sure, what He's asking is loaded and heavy and full of commitment and faithfulness. Doing justice, being compassionate, walking humbly: what does that look like day to day in response to His redemptive acts? There's a lot there, sure.

But aren't you so grateful that God hasn't asked us to be God?

Today was a hard day. I feel stuck. I came home, grabbed a book off my shelf, and soaked in a bath and my feelings for an hour. The book I grabbed was "Living as a Christian" by A.W. Tozer and he wrote this: "If God is God, then our hope is sound. And we Christians can walk around absolutely sure that everything is all right because we have God back of us: His oath, His covenant, His blood to support us in the whelming flood."

This world is ugly. It's not our home. But if God is God (and yes He is!) and a holy God of love, beauty, peace, and righteousness at that, THEN OUR HOPE IS SOUND. Because we know that, because we know that Christ died to save us, we know that everything is all right. The cross is our hope.

And then I've read Luke 24:12 lately. It's Peter's response after Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw the empty tomb, heard the two angels, and ran back to tell the eleven disciples. "But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what happened."

There's hope here. It's a hopeful, positive curiosity. This is Peter's turnaround. I imagine that in this moment, everything that Jesus said to Peter when He was still alive came rushing back and Peter realized that this is what Jesus meant. This is what He was all about. This is what He meant when He said He was going to die and be raised again. And I think it might have started to all make sense to him then.

I'm still discouraged. I don't know all the answers. I'm still angry and frustrated and desperate for sin to end. My mind still feels like a ball and I can't find a loose string to unravel it. But there's hope in characters like Peter and Crosby. When we stumble and don't get it and try and try again, we learn our humanity and learn our significance by the power of the cross. Sin loses its power, death loses its sting. We can step into the ring against a big and dark and powerful enemy and realize we've already won the fight because Christ fought and won it for us.