Tag Archives: Jesus

Come Father from the Fringes

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Worry and stress permeate when the gospel is not big enough or constrained to a small portion our life, unable to bring life to all areas. When the gospel is made silent, reserved for religious “times, activities or topics” it leaves room for one thing, humanism. Humanism is the idea that humanity is the ultimate or thing of prime importance. It is a full dependance upon humanity and ultimately self. And so I am left to wonder who reigns? The Lord or me? 

We live in a world that says spirituality and religion do not “fit” or are not permissible in certain spheres or is not enough to solve problems. So we turn to man made constructs, psychology or science to solve them. The problem I am facing, if I leave my heart unchecked, is being pulled into the delusion that I can solve my own problems. My fears drive me to striving to do more in hopes that I can prevent pain and hardship. My stress and worry opposes Godly contentment. My stress is a marker of something deep inside of me that is rebelling against the Truth. 

And with deep tragedy in my soul, forsaking my Maker and abandoning the truth, I wonder why the worries of the world are destroying me.

Why isn’t the Gospel working?

Because it isn’t the Gospel at all. Jesus came and liberated all of life, not just part of my life. He is not just reserved for quiet moments with him. Not just the spaces of worship or community Bible study. All of it

And so the poverty of my spirit and worried, hurried mindset communicate there are boundaries for the Gospel.

Oh no, sweet self. There are NO boundaries for Jesus. No part of life that the empty tomb, nail pierced hands, resurrected Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father left untouched.

So why do I live in fear?

Because I am buying into the self worship of humanism, the world’s structure that pushes God into the fringes until he is “no more worshiped.” Instead, I collect all things that glitter gold (my own wisdom, knowledge, capacity and capabilities) and I melt them down and construct with my hands a statue. As I look at this image, it resembles me. And I join the culture of individualism and buy the lie that I am worthy of worship. I am the ultimate provider and solution to life’s trials and tribulations. This glittering statue says “my way, my control, my preferences, my sacrifices all for my experience.” I assert this in my heart, and bow down to me while proclaiming to worship the Lord. 

But self worship has a price. A heavy burden. It demands I save myself. 

Am I willing to resist myself and invite my Father from the fringes into all things? Am I willing to melt the golden stature of self? Am I willing to oppose cultural norms of self worship- that declare and promote a message that me the individual, the human, the experience is ultimate- and chose the Gospel? 

Yes. Why? The burden is too heavy. My finite mind and body has reached capacity and my soul aches under the weight of trying to save myself. And I weep, I weep for the deluded heart inside of me that proclaims the Gospel and longs to live all for Him. Oh Father, have mercy on me. 

So come Lord Jesus. Come to every part and area of me and overturn the temple tables of self worship. And when I resist, in your gentle way show me how to keep the alter for You pure, and my knees bowed to the One who deserves all the glory and honor and praise. Oh come Father from the fringes. 

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

When we believe the miracle of the Gospel pertains to all of our life and turn to Him for help, He reveals Himself to us. And He grants us rest. I want that. I am tired of trying to save myself.

Oh great merciful God, forgive me for the times you have been pushed to the fringes of my life. You are the Truth. You are the solution to my weary, worried heart. Please, give me rest. Come Father from the fringes.

A Journey to Life with Less Worry

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You probably know the sound. The familiar voice that says… “Hurry, you have more to do. Why are you so slow? Don’t forget about that one thing. What if it doesn’t get done? If it doesn’t get done, you’ll be a failure. What about your finances? What if there isn’t enough to pay your bills? What if your next check bounces or the card gets declines? Oh… and your relationship with so and so, they didn’t text/email/call you back. Maybe they are mad at you? And he, he was short with you this afternoon. Maybe he is unhappy with you. What if you did something wrong?” 

You know that tape that plays in your head that is like a black hole that draws you in until you don’t know which way is top from bottom. Every possible subject becomes a matter of worry. As your mind reels about all of the possible things that may go wrong, your stomach muscles clench and butterflies form anxiously flitting about. With each flap your pulse gets higher and your lungs struggle for air. 

Or maybe it’s the late night to-do list that is running through your mind as you collapse on your pillow. As the list grows into a monster inside your mind, it takes life and swallows you up. You become restless and sleep leaves you. Tomorrow’s worries steal today’s sleep as you chase them into the new today. As you drag yourself out of bed, longing for the next moment you will find yourself there. Secretly you wish your day away believing that sleep is the best escape from your anxious reality. 

These are the sounds of worry…. and there are many more. But, I am sure you know the tapes well. I do. 

Worry, when multiplied becomes stress. And stress steels. It robs peace, joy and presence in today. Stress takes from the very life and fixates on every problem, and possible horrific outcome and spins a web that says “Control will fix this. Do more, accomplish more. Success= happiness.”  Stress lies telling you that life begins when the To-Do list ends (which is never, by the way). 

But what’s worse, is stress can and will manifest itself in your body when it becomes high enough. When the pressure builds and worry reproduces, it will make itself known. It hates being ignored and will make a scene. 

This my friends is where I found myself a month ago. 

Every worry, problem, possible problem, assignment (I am in grad school), to-do became so huge that nothing could console me. The stranger thing was I was coping to the point that I was in denial that I was stressed. I ran from task to task and was exhausted and hardly productive. My mood would swing violently as more was added to the list. When unexpected events would come about, it was more than I could bear. The burden was crushing me. I longed for my bed and cried every morning when my alarm went off, I would avoid getting up as long as I could. My heart, mind and body was looking for rest. Finally one day,  I found myself in the doctor with my limbs literally burning and my head pounding and the tests began. 

I should mention that medical tests do not help stress. In fact, it makes it worse. And so as the doctor waded through the possible reasons, I felt worse. The interesting thing is after all the tests, the conclusion is I am stressed. Oh really?  The pain and burning was coming from my neck and back that were clenched because of worry. 

Why does the body react to worry? Someone said to me that stress, which is the product of worry, actually is fear. 

Maybe my body is literally bracing itself for impact. Fear that tragedy, hardship or whatever the figment of my “worry tape” is playing at any given moment will actually happen. And so my body reacts to what is in my mind by clenching my muscles in fear that I will not be okay. 

And so my friends… I have begun the journey to find peace in the midst of a chaotic world that in fact does produce reason to worry. In a culture that demands constant activity, I am looking for rest. And with my “always have a plan five years out” personality I am learning to enjoy the journey. 

So will you come with me as I follow my Father, my Lord and Savior to a life with less worry? 

 

photo credit: iStockphoto. by Jennifer Goodman Linn

A Small Sparkly Reminder

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I am laughing as I sit down to write this blog post. It’s not something I ever planned to write about. So brace yourself.

I have a nose piercing.

A seemingly insignificant speck in my right nostril. Meaningless to the passerby and possibly overlooked by people who know me well. I never change it to something flashy and am not personally into the “nose ring”. I got the piercing when I turned twenty-two and honestly was slightly terrified of the reaction I believed my Mother would have when she saw it. (I must add she wasn’t phased and reacted opposite of my expectation).  I did not get the piercing because of the fad that seems to have invaded my generation, although I would imagine that would be the typical assumption.

Several months before my birthday that year I came across this passage that touched a deep place in my heart. I must confess that it had meaning out of context for this weary girls heart. A biblical scholar may not have this particular interpretation, but God’s Word is alive and active and it spoke very clearly to me that day. What I saw was my own story.  Ezekiel 16: 5-13 became alive through the lens of my own life:

5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.

6 “‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”[a]7 I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.

8 “‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.

9 “‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. 10I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. 

There were years of my life where I felt as though I was kicking about in my own blood in the middle of a field, discarded and alone. Blood from life decisions that caused my soul to run dry. The combination of sin and running from the plans God had for me, had pooled around me and caused isolation. This blood was a symbol of shame I rolled about in. Other times it was self-pity, self loathing and pure disgust. In certain moments it was hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness and rage. There certainly were times it was pride, insecurity and a desperate need to be in control. Sometimes it was distress and awareness of my captivity. I did not know how to get up out of the blood, there were moments where it was comfortable and familiar and yet I loathed the condition I was in.

I seemed to live simply because I was born. I went through the motions, developing and using tools to cope, limping along and refusing to relinquish control. My identity remained in the pools of blood at my feet and caked on my naked body. Ashamed of the condition I was in, deception swirled in the depths of my soul. Often I felt that the command to “live” was a cruel trick and I pled with the Giver of Life to take me and to end my suffering. I wanted a way out.

Truly it was not until I understood fully the covenant the King had made with me that I began to see myself for who I really was. One day I realized He took notice of me in my blood and nakedness and called me His. It was while I was in the field He came and delivered me from that barren place and carefully washed me of my blood and sin. He tended to each wound and clothed me. My King dressed me in the finest garments and saw something in me I never did. He took me and made me a queen.

The day I read this passage the description of clothing, jewelry and then being crowned struck a place in my heart. The value He gave me began to be exposed. I did not want to forget this identity. I never wanted to forget the process from the field to Him calling me his own. But I struggled with how to remember. The little girl in me wanted to wear a crown but when my eyes rested on “and I put a ring on your nose” I knew. A nose piercing was the perfect way for me to remember.

So at first glance it is a tiny jewel in my nose. But in my heart it is a crown I wear on my head to remember just how far He has brought me. I no longer lie in the field caked in my own destruction left to die. I do not want to forget what Christ did to deliver me.

Yes I got my nose pierced  as a reminder of how far He has brought me and the sacrifice He made to set me free. A small sparkly reminder of Him and His glory. And incase you didn’t know, He has done the same for you. You, my sweet sister are a queen, chosen by Him. He wants nothing more than to cleanse you from all that weighs you down and bring you out of your field of waste into the identity you have always had. He died to set you free. Friend, if you have never heard about the freedom Christ can offer I’d love to pray for you. Pray this with me:

Jesus, I am aware of the blood and waste that I am laying in. I am tired of trying to make this work on my own. I recognize my need for a savior and I accept that You want to make me your own. Thank you for dying on the cross, conquering death and suffering for my sin. Through acceptance of You I am cleansed and forgiven, forever a new creation in You and made new.   I believe that You are the Messiah that came to conquer death so that I can live eternal life with You as your accepted, chosen, adopted, redeemed and forgiven child. Thank you for this gift and opening my eyes to see who I am in You and what You have done for me. Today I accept you as my King and enter into the divine covenant that will radically change my life. I pray this in Jesus Christ’s Name- Amen

If you prayed this leave a comment or please find a local church this weekend and I promise He will meet you there. If you still aren’t sure or have questions or are just curious about all of this, please find a church in Your area and go. There is no better time than this sunday.

Also I’d love to hear if you have something in your life that reminds you of how far you have come and price He paid for you. Leave a comment 🙂

Keeping Company with Shame

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Shame is something I struggle with. This emotion is a complex mixture of past and present mistakes, perceived failures and  reality that I have missed the mark. Despite the reassurance that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), this lingering feeling can wash over me when I least expect it like a tidal wave threatening to drown me.

The most frustrating thing about shame is that I know in my head that I should not feel shame in who I am, or where I have been or in who I will become because Christ has died to set me free. On good days I rest in the truth that I am a new creation, and that Christ’s blood is more than enough for the likes of me, no matter how badly I screw up. But nevertheless, I still find myself keeping company with shame. Hand in hand, skipping like school girls, shame and condemnation embrace me. We sit around in a circle replaying and revisiting the lies. Condemnation spews venom into my heart until there is hardly an ounce of truth left. This nasty enemy befriends me while abusing me with the very things I despise. Condemnation keeps me looking backwards, wondering and wishing that I was someone different. Shame wraps its arms around me like an old familiar friend, promising not to leave.

The emotion of shame lies to me every time. It whispers that I am less than others and that God has lied to me when he says that I am an accepted, chosen, adopted and redeemed daughter of The Most High. It tries to persuade me that I deserve to be treated with disrespect and to remain in a state that demands I hide my face and divert my eyes from those who I have shamed. Shame tries to rob me of my identity in Christ tethering me to the old.

About a week ago, in the midst of worshiping my King, the world faded away and I found myself dancing with Him. As the words of a song rang from my mouth, I was far from the place I stood. There in the presence of the Lord, He showed me something.

He had dressed me in the most magnificent gown. The detail and the beauty of this dress go unmatched. The dress was white, billowing material with a full skirt surrounding me, fitting me like a glove. From head to toe, I was ready for what looked like a wedding. The tiny jewels on the dress glimmered in the light, reflecting Him. I was radiant, but something was wrong. I looked around me and grabbed from the ground a dirty dingy sack cloth. This cloth was filthy. Almost black with dirt and soot, stained and torn apart in places. The aroma coming from it was foul.  It was worn with holes as if it had been chewed on by some animal.  And I put it over my head covering the dress I was wearing. I then turned to Christ as if I had just placed a crown on my head.

In that moment He showed me that every time I cling to shame I am pulling on that sack cloth covering my true identity in Him. I continually place the grimy sack cloth over the gorgeous gown He made for me. In this sack cloth I am unable to see who I really am. I am blinded by my shame. Despite the fact that He tries to take it off me, as long as I put it back on nothing will change. I have to stop reaching for the sack cloth and slipping it on.

Upon seeing that vision my heart sank. I was choosing a ragged garment over the truth. I was settling and believing the lies and wearing them before my King when He has already dressed me in perfection. I felt more comfortable in the dirty, old rags then in the gown and beauty that He created me for. Shame and condemnation kept handing me the rags in hopes that I would never notice the dress I was wearing.

That is the danger of the enemy. He wants so desperately to convince us that we are not really something of great worth. The devil goes to great lengths to get us to forget who we really are and focus on the sack cloth and not on the beautiful women of God that we really are.

So today I am taking notice of the gown He has clothed me in. I am rejoicing in the work that He has done in me. I refuse to put on the garment of shame any longer. Shame is not a part of the glory that Christ has clothed me in. Let our eyes be open to the ways that He delights and rejoices in us. After all He is our Husband and He loves us so.

“As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5

Choosing Singleness: Waiting on Him

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So at the beginning of the year I confessed that I was in a season of singleness, and then I avoided it until, well now. Some of you might cringe with me because of the ridiculous stereotype that comes with being single. For some crazy reason single has the stigma of being less than being in a relationship.  Perhaps that is the reason for my silence. Or maybe it is because I had to come to grips with it myself. Okay, really it is both.

Maybe you can relate with the feeling that all your friends are getting married this year (okay, okay not all of them). The rest of them are already married and have a baby or are trying to have a baby. You meet with people over a steaming cup of coffee and you are enjoying yourself and the conversation until suddenly the topic switches to your love life.  You stare at them blankly because it doesn’t exist right now, out of choice I might add.  They then begin telling you about their cousin’s friend’s friend’s brother who is just so great and loves Jesus.  Oh yes, that is me. Anyone relate?

I love my friends, I might add. I know they really just want to see me with a guy who is running with the Lord the race marked out for him. But right now I know in my heart I am meant to run this segment of the journey alone. Without a man.

You see I am a recovered serial dater. I once was that girl that needed a man for an identity and looked for it in all the wrong types of guys. I imagine friends prayed for and worried about me because the guys I picked were not at all right. Somewhere along the way I would believe that they were “perfect” for me or believe that it was as good as it was going to get and settle into the dysfunction. I would adapt myself to fit their life, change the things I liked and disliked to make them happy and hopefully “find myself”.  Perhaps you have a friend that is like I was. You know, that girl that jumps from guy to guy like a spider monkey because of that emptiness that is just aching to be filled.

Those poor men that journeyed that segment of life with me naturally became exhausted because I looked to them for who I was. Or I somehow figured out that the situation really was bad and there had to be something better. So I would move on and find a better version of really the same type of guy.

One day I found myself dumped by a man I thought was “the one” and cried at the feet of Jesus. My broken heart ached and I despaired at the bottom of the pit of self loathing and lost identity. Christ met me there. I remember thinking how I felt like I had lost myself and then it dawned on me, I don’t even know who I am. Thankfully God has brought me a long way from this place and proceeded to pour into my identity. Believe me, if it can happen for me it can happen for you too. He is our Redeemer. I still have had a couple more dating blunders along the way and a while ago found myself single again.

I am doing it different this time. This time I am waiting on the Lord. I am believing in His timing and His plan. Dating has been a cycle of brokenness and control. I would crawl around head down groping for the nearest man to claim me and call life into me. I put the man on a pedestal and believed that he was all I needed to become whole.  I clung to this lie that I have to make it happen and take matters into my own hands because God wasn’t moving in this area of my life. In my impatience I would settle and search for something that is far less than what my Father wants for me. For now:

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

You see I finally get that no man, no human affirmation can call forth identity into me. My identity is in Christ alone and I will stand upon that truth. Knowing who I am in Christ has helped me stand up and not let others dictate who I am or will become. Through sleepless nights and countless tears I know now that the only thing I need is Jesus and one day, in His timing, if He brings me a husband it will be a bonus. I believe in God’s perfect timing the right man will walk into my life and a divine romance will unfold unlike anything this girl can understand.

But on top of that I am already married to the Prince of Peace and His love for me is perfect, never fails and never runs out.

“For your Maker is your husband- The Lord Almighty is his name- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” Isaiah 54:5