Chosen

  

Chosen is such a powerful word. Especially when you think about it’s opposite: rejected.  Rejection is that thing we all fear, and we’ve all experienced at one time or another.  I bet just the mention of the word “rejection” hurls you into emotion-filled flashbacks, and a flood of memories wash over you reminding you of all the times you were not chosen. 

An audition gone wrong. 
A team you never made. 
A boyfriend who hurt your heart. 
A friend that betrayed you.
A spouse that cheated on you. 
A job you didn’t get.  

If we’re not careful, we can begin to allow these moments to define us.  We begin to call ourselves REJECTED. But God calls us by name, and He calls us CHOSEN.



“BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION, THAT YOU MAY DECLARE THE PRAISES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT.” 1 PETER 2:9


The enemy to our souls will try and try to tell you that you’re less than who God says you are. He will whisper false labels on you, and try to distract you from your real name: Chosen. Accepted. 

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9 MSG. (emphasis mine)

Spend no more time there. Answer no longer to the name the enemy calls you by. 

Let me tell you a secret the enemy doesn’t want you to know: we all have a choice in this. We can choose whether we move forward from this point or whether we relive the past for the rest of our lives. 

I love the way Christine Caine said it- You could miss the rest of your life, which could be the best of your life by focusing on what was the worse of your life. 

Friend, allow me to speak some things over you. Your true identity. 

You are:

Accepted. 

Chosen

Loved. 

Wanted. 

Special. 

Included. 

Pursued. 

Loved. 

Important. 

Desired. 

Favored. 

Called. 

Preferred. 

Loved. 

Hand Picked. 

Noticed. 

Appointed. 

Selected. 

Loved. 

Remembered. 

You matter. 

You are HIS


Never again answer to any other name!

  

Why Is This Friday So Good? 

   

For so many reasons, I love having a little one in the house again. I love teaching her all about my Lord. Seeing Him come alive for her is beautiful. I love her sweet questions and her awe in Him. I love the way her eyes shine when she tells me things He is teaching her, and the way she runs to Him in prayer about anything is especially good for my heart. That’s my job….pointing her to Him. 


One question she asked is, Why is this Friday so good when it’s a day Jesus died? We love Him so much, why do we call it good that He died?

Friends, this is why we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it Good Friday: 

Without His death, we don’t have the Resurrection. And without His Resurrection, we don’t have a Savior. Without our Savior, we don’t have salvation


Because Jesus died and rose again, we have victory, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We have a home in eternity with Him. 

If the Resurrection didn’t happen, then nothing about Jesus is true. Since the Resurrection did happen, everything about Jesus is true. Jesus Christ is our risen Savior, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born on this earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is alive. He’s alive!

It all —all of this. Here. Now. You. Us. Our purpose. Our reasons. Our why’s, how’s and when’s. Our eternity— hangs on the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. 

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph, because by His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners, we have no hope of eternal life. 

You see, God is pure and Holy, and even one sin —just one— would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. But Jesus, my dear, sweet Jesus. By His death on the cross He became the perfect and final Sacrifice for our sins. And because of that, Heaven’s door is now flung wide open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. 

That’s why we can call the day on which Jesus, the Love of my life, died “Good Friday”. In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race because on that day, Jesus won our salvation. 

At one time, the Bible says we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But, now we have hope because Christ died for us. 

The nails didn’t hold Him to that cross, love did. 

Take a moment and relish in this one fact: death could not hold Him. 

They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three 
days He will rise again. Mark 10:34 NLT


It. Is. Finished.





 



#GoodFriday #Easter #Jesus #Salvation #Resurrection #ItIsFinished

Forever, Valentine

IMG_2789

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18

A child asked Jesus how much He loved her. He answered, “This much,” and then He stretched out His arms and died on the cross.

You may have heard this before. It’s a good way to think about how much Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He left heaven and came to earth for you. He loves you so much that He suffered and died for you. And the Bible says that nothing you can do will separate you from the love of Jesus.

In these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite — you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before He created you. He loves you right this minute. And He will love you for eternity.

We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

Every time I think about how much God loves me, He says – NOPE! More than that, my love! We can’t ever grasp it. It just goes on and on and on. It covers our past. It covers our now. It covers the future. It’s always more than enough. His Love never leaves. Never grows old. Never gives up. Never lets go. Is never selfish. His Love is always, ALWAYS patient, kind, and sweet.

He’s a year-round Valentine that we celebrate all year and not just one day. He is in passionate pursuit of a deeper relationship with us all of our lives.

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances.

To seek Him, the greatest adventure.

To find Him, the greatest human achievement. Raphael Simon.

Jesus wants you to be His Valentine now and forever.

IMG_2792

More Than Conquerors

20140714-063832-23912485.jpg

…In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39)

We are more than conquerors

God isn’t sending you out on a suicide mission – He’s inviting you to witness His surpassing power. God is on our side. Let your confidence in Him give birth to optimism.

In all these things we are MORE than conquerors. Don’t give up and don’t give in to the fear of defeat or failure. The solution is life on God’s terms.

It’s time for those of us who follow Jesus to occupy the promises of God – in spite of the bleak reports.

I’m optimistic.

Are you?

20140714-063915-23955675.jpg

With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

20140623-060338-21818943.jpg

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

Whatever you’re going through – whatever you’re facing today – embrace this written for you. You are dearly, dearly loved. Dearly wanted. God sees you. He’s here. He can’t forget someone He died for:

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

So look that problem in the eye and say: My God is bigger than you. No thanks!

20140623-060032-21632655.jpg

Gaining Intimacy With GOD

20140320-011020.jpg

I love the sermon we had at church this Sunday. I was so inspired because I passionately crave closeness with my Lord. I love slow dancing through my life with Him. I deeply long for intimacy with Him. It’s more valuable to me than anything else. More than everything else. 

We’re talking about less being more when it comes to gaining intimacy with GOD:

There’s a lie we’ve bought into that says: I’ll grow if I go. We believe that just going to church is all we need to do to grow. It’s great to go to church, but the point is transformation. The point is growing in Spiritual maturity. We need a crisis of transformation. Are we changing? Are we experiencing transformation? 

What we need is intimacy with GOD. This should be our goal. This is more than just going to church. We’re talking about change. You can’t come away from an up close, intimate relationship with God and be the same. Are we changing? Growing more spiritually mature? 

One way to gain intimacy with GOD is through fasting. We traditionally think of fasting as doing without something in order to pray and ask GOD for something we want. 

Fasting is where less is more. 

Fasting is voluntarily denying yourself of something in order to increase time and intimacy with GOD.

It’s denying yourself to provide yourself with this encounter with God.

We sometimes think GOD as a genie in a bottle where we ask Him for something we want and it stops there. But no. GOD wants a relationship with us. The goal of fasting should always be intimacy.

Jesus Himself fasted:

The Spirit then led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. After this fast, He was, as you can imagine, hungry. But He was also curiously stronger when the tempter came to Jesus. Matthew 4:1-3

We grow and become transformed by fasting. We gain power and strength from this intimate time spent with Daddy. It’s digging in deeper with Him. It’s what our motive should be when we fast – to gain intimacy with God. This strength helps us in dealing with the enemy’s prowling around in our lives. 

Jesus has a fundamental expectation that we are going to fast. It’s expected of us:

And WHEN you fast…. Matthew 6: 6-18 (Emphesis mine)

See that? Jesus didn’t say IF. He said WHEN. It’s expected. 

Fasting also reveals a few things for us:

1. What really controls us.

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. Romans 12:2

Beware of the way that culture shapes you. It’s difficult to see the ramifications of our own culture while we are in the midst of it. Think about the trends of our culure and how they are impacting you. Disengage so you can properly see how much. Once we let go of something, we become more aware of the hold we let it have on us. Skeptical? Try stepping away from Facebook or that online game you play and you’ll truly see it’s grip on you. 

Fasting is paradoxical. In fasting, we embrace emptiness in order to experience fullness.  When we get quiet and still, we get fullness in Him. 

2. My abuse of time. 

We’ll discover how much more time we have to seek intimacy with GOD when we disengage in order to grow more intimate with GOD. There are things we’ve allowed to use up massive amounts of time that is meant for us to spend with Him. We are wasting time. Period. 

What helps you feel close to GOD? Whatever it is, when fasting, do that because the goal in fasting is more intimacy with GOD. 

Human beings have an undeniable propensity toward become obsessed with things that ultimately have little meaning or value. We become obsessed or addicted to something that has little value. Don’t know of anything affecting you this way? Again—try doing without it to get perspective on it.

3. That more is not always better. 

We think that more is always better.  

Our biggest temptation is not the ridiculously evil–but the deceptively good. We get ourselves busy, busy, busy with more, more, more of all sorts of things that replace time of gaining more intimacy with Daddy GOD. We need less of something in order to have more of what’s most important. 

You, GOD, are my GOD, earnestly I seek for you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

You know you’re missing something. You know there is a void in your life. Did you know that’s your soul thirsting for GOD? This world – this life IS a dry and weary land. It can’t ever quench your thirst because it’s just shifting sand. It’s dry and weary. Why? There’s nothing here that your soul is longing for. It can’t satisfy that emptiness within you. You try to fill it with many things but it doesn’t help because you live in a dry and weary land and your soul thirsts for GOD. How much sand would it take to quench your thirst? More sand just compounds thirst and you’re never satisfied. You try and quench that thirst by relationships, sex, drugs, activity, people, and working. GOD is the only thing that quenches that thirst. 

As you’ve read this, GOD has brought some things up in your heart that you need to do. Whatever GOD is speaking to you about right now, go and do it and don’t delay. If the enemy can’t get you to deny what GOD wants you to do, he will get you to delay what GOD wants you to do. 

GOD, help us to embrace emptiness in order to embrace fullness. In You. 

My pastor said it best. I love to take notes during church, but you can click here to hear this sermon directly from him with more detail. You’ll want to be sure and watch until the end because you will be so blessed by what’s there.

You can also subscribe to the feed from our church at this link, but if you’re in the area of any of the locations, drop by. You’ll be blessed. 

20140320-012413.jpg

Waiting For My One True Love

20140210-233816.jpg

I  am not a patient person. I want to know it all. And, I want to know it NOW! I am the girl who flips to the end of the romance book to see if they end up together. A die hard romantic. I just can’t wait long enough to find out their ending or should I say their beginning with their one true love.

In high school, I decided not to date. To just cool my jets and fall in love with my God. It was a time to focus my attention on God. He said that He would bring the man he had for me in HIS timing, not mine. So that’s what I did. 

I waited.

That time of wait was not always easy. However, I have a best friend who had the same commitment, so the waiting wasn’t nearly as hard as it could have been. During those years, we laughed so hard our sides hurt. Pulled pranks. We went on adventures that would make you cry from laughing so hard. We were (and still are) inseparable! We decided to dance our way through this time of waiting.

In the meantime, she had an older brother who I thought was the bee’s knees! He was everything I was looking for in a guy. When I say everything, I mean e v e r y t h i n g: a Jesus loving musician with a heart for people, level headed, calm, cool, collected, an amazing servant leader. The list goes on and on and on! Except there was one problem: He was my best friend’s older brother! 

So I kept it a secret.

I didn’t tell my best friend. I didn’t want her to get mad. And I didn’t want her to think I used her to see her brother, which wouldn’t be anywhere close to the truth.

This went on for years.

And years.
 
In the spring of 2012, I finally told her at a stop light in our small town. It was rather comical. As it turns out, she knew and had been waiting for me to tell her. She wasn’t mad, and it didn’t go as I feared it would. I was so relieved! 

I had brought my feelings to God numerous times. With graduation looming, I felt my time of no dating was coming to an end and this guy was no stranger in my prayers! During that Spring, the situation looked bleak. He was interested in someone else! I was devastated to say the least. I prayed and asked God what I should do. I loved Brandon and wanted only the best for him. No matter what or with whom that would be. 

The only response I got from God was, “Wait.” 

What?

Wait?

Again?? 

Really????

That was not the answer I was wanting. I wanted an immediate answer to the problem! But, I knew God loved me deeply and had a purpose, so I decided to trust him and wait……but this wait was for God to bring someone else. I planned to squash my feelings for Brandon and just see him as a friend. That’s all. I tried. Honestly, I did. I almost believed the lies I told myself too. 

Later that fall, I got a text from HIM. Brandon only asked me a simple question. No big deal. But to my amazement, we kept talking. And talking.

This went on for 7 MONTHS people! I was so impatient! He never gave me any clue if he liked me or not. Not a single one! Ugh! I was just getting down right mad at this point. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted a definite answer! Either ask me to be your girl or stop texting me! 

I decided to take matters into my own hands (never a good idea). A couple of people had tried to set me up with their friends and I had always turned them down. This time I decided to just meet them. Why not? Brandon wasn’t going to do anything anyways. I got to know them a little bit. Before I could even finish asking God what he thought, I got a resounding NO! I thought I had heard wrong. Surely, I had. But no. I had not. So I dropped it. Never to be picked up again. 

A bunch of us ended up going to a birthday party at the zoo. On April 20th 2013, at the Nashville Zoo by the tiger exhibit, Brandon asked me to be his girl. FINALLY! I was completely surprised. I honestly had no clue if he was interested in me or not. As it turns out, he had had his eye on me for years! He had been praying about me late into the nights and told no one. 
 
I was walking in the clouds that day. And I haven’t come down since. God had a plan and a purpose. Of course He did. One greater than I could have imagined. Those years (and YEARS!) of waiting were worth every second. I wouldn’t trade them. They make our love story especially sweet. God prepared us for each other in HIS timing and not ours. Never have I been so grateful for the word wait

If you are in a waiting season, take heart! God has not forgotten you, just like he never forgot me. God stretches us the most when we can’t clearly see the way ahead. We may not always understand His ways, but God is God. We have to trust Him to make known to us the paths of life. In my lifetime, God has made me wait. He has taught me so much more in the times of waiting than when I have had everything I wanted. You may be waiting for something different. It may be a job. Or a home. Or maybe it’s your one true love as well. But the waiting is the same. Enjoy the ride! Roll down your windows. Drink in deeply the sweet presence of God. Dance through your times of waiting. You can learn a lesson from my story: Don’t push it. Don’t rush it. Just let God bring it to you in His timing. It works out better that way.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

 
Love,
Morgan

20140210-233831.jpg

Let God Overwhelm You Today

20140126-110525.jpg

I am your all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present Father.

You may feel lonely, but don’t believe it. You’re never far from Me.

I Am is always here – delighting in you, watching you, adoring you.

I know you better than you know yourself, and it brings Me great joy to show you My love. I pleasure in caring for you.

Come.

Let My love overwhelm you today….

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:1-6

These are my notes from my devotion time today. His loving presence is wonderfully, fantastically, overwhelmingly, almost too much to handle. It makes you feel like you’re going to spontaneously combust! It’s miraculous. It’s where I crave to be all the days of my life.

Let God overwhelm you today.

Go ahead….invite Him in right now

{Equip} Link Up for the Best Selling 100 FREE eBooks on Faith!

20140108-010117.jpg

We are constantly influencing those around us. Whether our sphere of influence is a church, a Bible Study group, co-workers, our spouse, children, family, online and social media community, or a class – we owe it to those around us to equip ourselves with great tools to love and lead them well.

Leaders are readers.

I highly recommend that you arm yourself with loads of encouraging, equipping, and empowering books on faith that inspire you to stretch yourself. To help you love and lead like Jesus.

However, we don’t need to read a bunch of books about the Bible instead of actually reading the Bible. I love a quote by Charles Spurgeon: Visit many books, but live in the Bible. There’s nothing, nothing, nothing like reading God’s Word.

There are lots of tools you need to be successful in the new year and save money doing it. Yesterday I told you here about 16 free books by one of my favorite teachers, Beth Moore. There are links in that post for iPhone, iPad, Nook, Kindle, ePub, and more. That offer is only good through January 10, 2014 so be sure and hurry over to that post for all the links to grab those jewels. Don’t forget to pass on my blog link for others to enjoy.

Today I have more goodies for you:

Amazon has posted 100 BEST SELLING books on faith for FREE on Kindle.

For those of you that do not have a Kindle, don’t fret. There is a free app for Kindle in which you can download all Kindle eBooks just as someone would do on a real Kindle device. And, just because I love you…and I want you to get these books…here’s the link to grab that app

This is 100 FREE eBooks, friends! Even better – it’s 100 FREE BEST SELLERS ON FAITH! What a great big, toe tipping kiss from Daddy! I’m not sure how long this deal will be going on, so run on over with this link and get them while you can.

Don’t worry, we’ll get back to posting devotions and Bible studies here. I just had to tell you about these delicious finds and couldn’t dare keep them for myself!

(FYI: I in no way receive any money for recommending these to you. I haven’t been solicited by Amazon to tell you about it. There are no affiliate links in this post. I just love you all and want to bless you with my finds 🙂 )

#Amazon #Free #ebooks #Kindle #Christian #faith

Go Naked

20140104-015424.jpg

I love my office. It’s one of my favorite places to be. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in that office. Had many conversations with my Heavenly Daddy there. Met with and comforted lots of people in there. 

Love. It. 

I have a note pinned on my wall that says write naked. When my oldest daughter came in and saw that note for the first time she teased, “Uh, Mom, whatcha been doing in here?” I told her just to be sure and knock before coming in 🙂

But, seriously.

It’s a reminder for writers to be real, release inhibitions, and just let the creative juices flow. Don’t let anything get in the way of it. Including yourself. 

We need to do the same in every area of our lives – including and especially the things God has called us to do.

We are by nature comfort seekers. We like to do what feels good and comes easy. But all those heroes of the faith who blazed the way are cheering us on, and we need to get on with it. Let’s strip it down, throw it all off, get naked, start running and never quit.

Jesus began and finished this race we’re in. He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – and could put up with anything along the way: the Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there. Right there in the place of honor, right alongside of God. 

Let go of all insecurities, all fear, all perceived (or real) judgments by others, all sins, whatever. Write like no one is reading. Dance like no one is around. Sing like no one is listening. Go. Do. Be who you were made to be! 

And, when you feel yourself flagging in your faith, go over Jesus’ story again, item by item: that long litany of hostility He plowed through, the bloodshed, the Cross. That will shoot adrenaline into your soul!

Anything holding you back is a parasite sucking all the nutrients  – the joy, peace, excitement, and closeness that comes from surrendering to Christ – at your expense

It isn’t helping you. It’s weighing you down. 

Odds are….you already know this. You feel it. 

RELEASE is a good word for 2014. Let go of everything that binds and RUN!

Go naked.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Joy To Your World

20131225-010132.jpg

Joy to the world. The Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

You may have heard the Christmas story thousands of times before, but do you believe it? Have you embraced it as reality and truth? Or have you filed it away under Christmas fantasy along with magical bags of toys and elves?

The true Christmas story, the one that I have chosen to weave as truth into the fabric of my life, is the story of a girl who was ordinary, young and unqualified.

God chose to place Himself inside her womb so that you and I could, one day, carry His presence inside of our lives as well.

God, the Father, the Creator of the Universe, the Instigator of everything glorious and miraculous, chose you and me as the vehicle through which our generation would receive its greatest gift. It is our miracle that we have been called to demonstrate Jesus to the world in which we live.

The world will see the Light of the world when I allow my life to become a shining beacon to humanity.

Christmas was not all about Mary … or Joseph … or Elizabeth and Zacharias … or shepherds and Magi. Christmas is about you too! It is about making yourself available at this time in history – for such a time as this – to reveal the presence and love of our Savior.

You are the present that God is choosing to give to your world today. Your generation is desperate for the glory of a Savior.

As you contemplate New Year’s resolutions and plans that will encompass the 365 days to come, will you recommit yourself to be used by God?

Will you decide this Christmas day to allow God to use your life as the manger upon which the Savior of the world may be found?

Joy to YOUR World! Jesus has been born in YOU. God is looking for believers who will be bold enough and joyful enough to embrace the miracle of Christmas, not just one day a year, but every day of every season.

Merry Christmas! May you truly grasp how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love Christ has for you.

Making A List And Checking It Twice

20131223-200418.jpg

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:7-8)

As much as I try or even want to love on my own strength, I cannot love well and completely unless I am connected to God. Believe me, I’ve done that, and it ain’t pretty.

When we first know Who God is and experience His love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we are then filled up with a supernatural love that overflows to others…..even those who are hard to love.

It’s this same supernatural love that God pursues us with. His tender passion is not found in this world, oh, no. This world is full of fragile loves–love that abandons, love that fades, love that divorces, love that is self-seeking, self-pleasing, and plain out selfish….me, me, me, it’s all about me, and right now. This isn’t love….these are “feelings”. God is not that kind of love. Real love is like God who is holy, just, giving, kind, patient, seeking others needs first, never gives up, never looses faith, always hopeful, and endures forever.

He’s personal and intimate with us in our hearts, in our prayers, and in our lives. His love is everlasting.

I just love Him so much that I have to do something about it. Who Christ is and what He’s done should cause us to act. His generous love and compassion is not to stop with us. We should find ways to show compassion to those who are suffering (even if it is at their own hands) because Christ is compassionate towards us. (Believe me when I tell you that there are days when that alone keeps me going. I could start another blog on that alone….these aren’t empty words here). His love for me is my fuel and lights me up…keeps me fired me up and overflows to others.

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving….great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves and in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo

Here’s your list….check it twice 😉:

  • Love for God can be seen only in love for other people (4:11-13,16-21,5:2)
  • Love and fear are opposites (v18)
  • Love is a gift, not a possession (v10,13,19)
  • Confession of Christ and love of others cannot be separated (vv19-21)
  • God’s love is certain. Christ showed that on the cross. (4:10,14; 5:6)
  • Because He first loved us….

    In All Things….Remember

    20131208-125711.jpg

    I’ve had quite the week. One child extremely sick and facing emergency surgery. Mom in another hospital facing the same thing. Me, coming down with bronchitis, sinusitis, and strep throat.

    No matter what mountains we’ve faced this week….or will face in the future….one Thing remains solid.

    His name is Jesus.

    And those mountains?

    They take one look at GOD and melt, melt like wax before earth’s Lord.

    Whatever you’re facing, just remember who you belong to

    We Belong To Him {there’s a great joy and peace in that}

    20131117-064740.jpg

    Know that the Lord is God— he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture ~Psalms 100:3

    Shepherds played an important role in the world of Israel. Their work was to find grass and water for the sheep and to protect them from wild animals and tend to their sickness and wounds. It required them to spend long hours exposed to the natural elements. It was not and easy life.

    It was to the shepherds the angels first announced the birth of Jesus. This was especially appropriate since Jesus’ famous ancestor, David, had centuries earlier watched the family’s sheep in those same fields near Bethlehem.

    It also reminds us that the coming of Jesus is good news for all people, not just those already privileged by wealth and power.

    The important role of the shepherd is used often in the New Testament to teach us about Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep (John 10:1-18).

    Psalm 100 is and invitation to enter joyfully into God’s presence. He is faithful and extends that faithfulness to us and beyond our generation forever.

    He is ours and we are His.

    God is all-knowing and ever present. He is beautiful and desirable. He is Creator. He is good and generous, great and sovereign. Holy, loving, and faithful. He is merciful, forgiving, and powerful. Ready and willing to reveal His will, law, and direction. He is righteous and just, and His Spirit is sweet.

    And, He says to us:

    I am your God and your are my sheep.

    This. This makes me stand to my feet and applaud God. To bring a gift of laughter, and sing myself into His presence. For I know this: Jesus is my LORD. He made us….we didn’t make Him. We are His people, His well-tended sheep. I enter His presence and say THANK YOU! I make myself right at home with Him, and praise Him the whole time.

    Thank Him. Worship Him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal and always and ever.

    Psalm 100 (The Message)

    Let’s Get Our Praise On {get your feet dancing and that body moving!}

    20131107-124905.jpg

    Dear child of God, sister, mother, brother, father, son, daughter, friend, family or foe,

    Let’s get our praise on…

    You are beloved of the most high GOD. The One True GOD. You are bought, paid for, redeemed, restored, re-done, repurposed, and worth it. He is crazy about you, mad about you, obsessed about you, His mind is stayed on you.

    You are beautiful. His eye is always in you. All heaven praises and celebrates you. If you falter, He will drop what He’s doing and come running for you. Everything He does is a solution for you. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more. YOU.ARE.SET.FREE!!

    The Creator of the sun, moon, stars, day, night, land, air, sea, mountains, trees, seasons, and mankind has you in the palm of His hands. You are the apple of His eye. He created you in His image to reflect His love to this world. You, my friend, my sister, my brother, are His love song to this world. The Word That Became Flesh became you on that cross so that you could become Him in this world.

    He is mighty, He is power and He calls you friend. He goes before you, behind you, stands beside you, makes your paths straight, and directs you. He covers you, protects you, and shelters you.

    You.Are.His.


    He spoke the world into existence, and the sound of your voice turns His head.

    He takes the unlikely and makes them the one. He takes the unqualified and gives them power and position. He takes the unworthy and gives them a crown. He takes the humble and gives them a seat of honor; love and acceptance to the unlovable. He takes the sick and makes them whole….hope to the hopeless. Trades sorrow for joy, pain for pleasure, fear for perfect peace. His burden is light.

    He.Is.Yours.

    Hear that beat? Here that music thumping? Come on, get up! Let’s get our praise ON!

    God Uses the Unlikely and the Unexpected

    20131023-091215.jpg

    God uses unexpected people to spread His message. We have our own preconceived ideas of who is worthy, but God doesn’t play by our rules. I’m glad. He’s a much better leader and coach than we are. I’ll let Him call the plays. 

    Let’s look at John 4:4-47

    On His way home from Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in Samaria—an area most Jewish people avoided. Jesus didn’t have any concern for the prejudices of people around Him. Instead, He chose to minister to everyone who was willing to recognize Him for who He really was. 

    We don’t know much about the woman at the well. Her villiage knew who she was. They knew she was woman not to be trusted or a woman to be admired. But, when she met Jesus she knew her villiage needed to meet Him too. Telling her villiage was not up for debate or a choice; meeting Jesus was not a story that could be contained. So despite the risk, despite the ridicule she knew could come, she ran to the villiage and told them the story about how she met a man who knew everything about her. 

    Her villiage was never the same. 

    GOD used and unexpected woman to impact her whole Villiage with her story. She was repurposed. Her story ended differently than it began. Hallelujah!

    Because It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…

    GOD used the story of a divorced, relationally plagued woman to move the hearts of a whole town. One woman’s story brought the whole town to Jesus. This was the tool that GOD used to bring His message to a lost world. 

    Maybe you feel like the woman at the well. Maybe you have done some terrible things. Sexual sins. Bad relationships. Things you’ve said. Bad habits you can’t kick. God still wants to use you. He wants you to get in the game. He wants to work through you. 

    None of us were created to sit in the stands. We all need to get out of the stands, off the bench and into the game. 

    What is your circle of influence? If you had been at that well, and you had immediately left to go back to your circle of influence, your network, where would you have gone? Your family? Your school? The sport team you play on? Your neighborhood? What circle of influence has GOD put you into? Where has He planted you? 

    Where did God find you?

    Where did He take you?

    Whatever your story, it’s not a story to be contained. You must reach out wherever God has you….EVERYWHERE that God has you…and tell the story of Jesus.

    My life is not my own. I belong to him as well as all that encompasses my life. I am sealed. Repurposed. I must go and tell about a man who knows everything about me…….

    A Boss or a Leader {Which one are you?}

    Leaders remember: you’ve got to live it to lead it

    20131019-111601.jpg

    Just a short post today as I ponder leadership.

    There is a difference between a boss and a leader…
    Anyone can be bossy, but not everyone can be a leader

    Leaders lead~~Bossy people are just bossy.

    Leaders inspire, build up, and encourage~~Bossy people blame and tear down.

    Leaders want others to succeed~~Bossy people walk in fear and jealousy.

    Leaders see clearly that there is no “I” in team~~Bossy people see no “I” in team.

    Leaders thrive on giving~~Bossy people snatch, take false credit, and think everyone is out to get them.

    Leaders speak well of your accomplishments to others~~Bossy people belittle you and gossip.

    Leaders make much of Jesus~~Bossy people need to be upfront and center with the spotlight on them.

    When a leader sees someone younger in the faith making a mistake, they come alongside, teach in love, and keep it between them ~~~Bossy people see someone make a mistake, call it out and tell others about it. (whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9)

    Leaders do this:

    So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

    Go. Inspire someone today. Encourage. Equip. Empower others to the attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ

    Leaders: Remember, you’ve got to live it to lead it. A boss says “Go!” A leader says “Let’s Go!”

    He’ll Bring You Back

    word-hug

    God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden to rule on His behalf.

    But, they chose to disobey God’s one command and through them, sin entered the world. They were banished from the Garden and their fellowship with God was broken.

    Their.Fellowship.With.God.Was.Broken. This, my friends, hurts my heart. The mere thought of sweet fellowship with my beautiful Jesus being broken just grieves me. It grabs me deep and my soul screeches and pours out, “noooooo!” We’ve all felt further away from God in those times in our lives when we smother Him out and don’t keep Him a priority. But, broken?! Oh, how they must have HURT!

    Take this world, the magazine articles written, the speaking engagements, the classes taught, take it all. Take this world and give me Jesus! I’ve GOT to have Jesus!

    But, friends, we have an amazing God who is more addicted to fellowship with us than we are to Him. God immediately set into motion His plan to bring us back. This is the story of the whole Bible.

    Everything God does is a solution.

    God continually works to redeem us for Himself. He wants to lovingly bless us with good things as we seek and find our hope in Him. He is the source of all good things.

    No matter what we do, or how we mess up, EVERYTHING God does is a solution to bring us back. Get us back to where we are supposed to be. Back in the game. Back on track. Back in the joy of our salvation. He meets us where we are and never leaves us there. 

    The story of the whole Bible is God redeeming His people and bringing them back. It also tells us who God is…it reveals His personality, His character, and His plan for us. And, it also reveals His deepest desire: To relate to and fellowship with the people He created. His deepest desire is a passionate, loving relationship with YOU.

    Are you at a place today where you are desperate for God? Empty and needing a Savior? Well, guess what….He wants that even more than you do. It’s called grace. So, don’t be shy. Nothing you’ve done will make Him love you any less. He’s better than we humans about that. Go right on up and climb into Daddy’s lap. He’s running to greet you now.

    See: Genesis 1: 1-2:4, Genesis 3:1-24, Luke 15:11-32, James 1:17, John 3:16

    Creation: A Love Story

    Creation-ALoveStory

     

    The book of Genesis begins with “God created the heavens and the earth” The world—and you—are not products of blind chance and probability; God created it and us. They are here. We are here. God created all that we see and experience. Here we begin the most exciting and fulfilling journey imaginable.

    God did not NEED to create the universe. He CHOSE to create it. Why? Love. God is love and love is best expressed toward something or someone else. So, God created the world and people as an expression of His love.

    We can know in a very personal way this God who created the universe. God’s deepest desire is to relate to you. To have fellowship with you, His creation. He took the ultimate first step in this relationship with us through His visit to this planet in the person of His Son, Jesus. Now, it’s your turn. It’s your move.

    How do you grow closer to understanding and hearing from God? By giving heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His voice is still and small and must be felt.

    God is love and His voice is for the ear of love. And, your love should be intent on hearing even the smallest of whispers.

    You know…those times in conversation when you’re just about to say a word, and you feel that gentle nudge. And, those moments when you’re about to pursue something that seems clear and right and there comes a quiet suggestion that another way is better.

    It’s a voice quietly spoken in your heart at first but the more you listen and obey, it grows louder and clearer.

    If you want to know Him better take heed to His voice even when is seems contradictory from a human standpoint. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. When you do, you will experience a fellowship with God that is wildly overpowering, wonderfully overwhelming, and more than you could ever imagine. A relationship that will hold you and He closely together even in the most severe testings and pressures.

     

    Remember: You are part of creation, and He is pleased with how He made you. If at times you feel worthless, remember that God made you for a good reason. You.Are.Valuable.To.Him.

     

    See: Genesis 1: 1- 2:3; Isaiah 30:21; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:20

     

    Identity Crisis

    I saw this a while back and saved it. I do that a lot when I run across things on the World Wide Web. The problem is, often times, I can’t remember where I get them.

    I wanted to share it here with you to bless you and help you all to remember your identity in Christ. The true and powerful identity we have after we accept Him as Lord and Savior.

    This, my friends, is who you are in Christ. There is no identity crisis here! Name it and proclaim it!! Don’t forget it. Brothers and Sisters, don’t you dare believe anything less than who your Creator says you are!

    Thank You Jesus!!

    20130910-083416.jpg

    Now, join me in a Jesus jig! Praise You, Lord! There’s no way we can read a list like that and not worship and glorify Your name! Hallelujah!

    What Are You Afraid Of?

    20130907-105408.jpg

    Seems that the theme message GOD is giving His people today is to be fearless. Serve Him fearlessly. Don’t let fear stop you, let it motivate you. Sometimes the thing you fear is the very thing GOD is calling you to do.

    God does not give us the spirit of fear:

    This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you……..For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6, 7 NLT).

    Fear is irrational. Fear steals your power. You do not think clearly when operating out of fear.

    It is said that those who fear the darkness have no idea what light can do

    I love this insert and action point by Adrian Rodgers:

    What Are You Afraid Of?

    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

    In Matthew 25, we read the parable of the talents. When the master who had distributed the talents came to see the stewardship of those talents, one man had taken his talent and hidden it in the ground.

    You may have a buried talent, but you’ve been covered up by the sinister minister of fear, who keeps you from achieving your dreams. You say, “But what if I fail?” You can be so afraid of making a mistake that your entire life will be a mistake. The fear of failure keeps so many from competing that they never even get in the race. They just lose by default!

    ACTION POINT:
    Sir Walter Scott was called a “dunce” by his teachers. Napoleon Bonaparte was next to last in his military class. Walt Disney was fired as a cartoonist because the newspaper said he couldn’t draw! It’s not bad to fail. We all will fail. But may God deliver you from the spirit of failure, which is a spirit of fear.

    The thing GOD has called you to do is His. It’s His glory. His workings. His Kingdom. His. Not ours. He will equip you.

    Feeling unqualified for what you know for sure He’s calling you to do? Great! His power works great in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). You are fearing failure because you’re working like it depends on you. Now, how about working like it depends on God? Remember GOD doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

    Listen, He will not call you to watch you fail because that would tell the world that He….the very God you’re working for…. is a failure. He’s not. And, neither are you. Have you messed up? We all have when we don’t walk in His wisdom. Ask His forgiveness, learn from it, and move on.

    Everyone is dealing with something. It’s what they do with it that makes the difference in people

    Feeling paralyzed by fear? Do it anyway. Do it afraid if you have to, just do it. There are so many leaders who have failed at something and been told lies about how worthless they are. Instead of letting that stop them, they allowed it to motivate them. You will regret it if you don’t. Regret causes bitterness, and we all know how ugly bitterness is.

    Walk in His power. It’s all available and waiting for you. Fan those flames! Remember, the very thing you fear is often the very thing GOD is calling you to do.

    Satisfied

    20130802-070028.jpg

    It’s going on 6:30am and I’ve been sitting for over an hour and half holding a sweet sick child as she struggles with a cold. She’s finally sleeping. Due to her severe neglect she has a lot of sensory processing disorder issues and developmental delays that GOD is healing. Amen! This causes some confusing feelings in her especially when she doesn’t feel well. She and I are very close and when anything goes on, happy or sad, she wants Mama! She and I spend a lot of time together. She trusts me. We have a kind of “short hand” between us. I know what she needs faster than anyone just by a look, or a sigh. I can read her quicker than she can read herself. I know her. I’ve spent a lot of time studying and listening to her. My voice brings her confidence when she is confused by the messages her little world is sending her. Just the sight if me makes her relax. She often says, “I need you, Mama.”

    I am blessed.

    As I studied and reflected this week on Psalm 63 and the deep satisfaction GOD brings into our lives….His love, mercy, faithfulness and provision moved me. As soon as David woke he was aware of his need, his deep thirst for GOD. Even more so than the need for a drink. David was in the wilderness and knew thirst.

    Because he had spent time with GOD in his life before the wilderness came, he knew GOD. Really knew Him. Our GOD is faithful. He knew GOD could quench his thirst, satisfy his hunger, fulfill his every longing. And, when GOD satisfies it isn’t with a quick snack. No, it’s a satisfaction from rich, solid foods that fills you up full and gets you through this thing. GOD knows David better than David knows David; knows what he needs better than he does. He holds David steady no matter how shaky the ground feels beneath his feet. One glance in the eyes of Daddy relaxes David. David has strength and confidence in a mighty, loving GOD Who is passionate about him. Who pursues HIM. Who is consumed with HIS love for him.

    GOD is that crazy about each one of us. As I sit here holding a sleeping child and know how deeply I love her. How much I gladly do for her. How I am passionate about the love I have for her; how much I want to fulfill every need, every hurt, every longing that she has, I am blessed and confident. Confident in knowing my GOD can and will do all of that and so much more than I can think of or imagine for each of us.

    HE is here in each of our lives sweet sisters! THIS is our Daddy! HIS love is perfect and pure. HE knows us better than we know ourselves. And, HE is there. Right there in front of you. Behind you. Beside you. Rest in HIM. Drink HIM in. Dine with HIM. HIS love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

    Blessings and love to you all xoxo.

    In His Peace,
    Christy

    *I’ve been away from you dear friends and I’ve missed you. I’ve been away writing. I’ve written over one hundred daily devotionals that I will begin to share with you here soon. GOD is GOOD!

    I’ve also been busy helping and organizing our growing ministry. GOD has truly blessed and we know HE will bring more to us. Things have also been very busy at home. We have children moving into full time ministry across the world from us, and traveling around busy with ministry here, and training up our newly adopted little one in the way she should go so that when she too is older, she won’t depart from it (Proverbs 22:6) . When you give your kids to GOD HE says ok, and we submit!

    Come Home, Runaway

    20130509-035536.jpg

    “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24 NIV)

    I deeply love this parable. The father seeing his son come from a long way off indicates that he habitually looked for his return, scanning the distant road daily hoping to see him. The father put feet to his feelings by RUNNING out to meet his son. The father displayed compassion, love (threw his arms around his neck and kissed him), celebration, joyful restoration of status for his son (a robe of distinction, a signet ring of family authority, sandals worn by a son in contrast to a barefoot slave). The father initiated restoration of fellowship before the son could articulate his confession because he knew what was in his heart.

    Everything the younger son had hoped to find in the far country, he discovered back home: clothes, jewelry, friends, joyful celebration, love, and assurance for the future.

    The difference: instead of saying, ‘Father, give me!’ (as he did before he left) he said, ‘Father, make me!’ He was willing to be a servant!

    God’s compassion for a wandering sinner returning home far outweighs any sin we have committed. His love for us is deep, and His grace and mercy are long. God is not waiting for his shamed child to slink home, nor is He standing on His dignity when He comes, but RUNNING out to gather us, shamed and ragged and muddied as we are, to His welcoming arms. The name “Father” will at once fade the color of sin and heighten the splendid glory of forgiveness.

    In Phillip Yancey’s book “What’s so Amazing about Grace,” Yancy retells the story of the Prodigal Son from a modern day view point. It is a powerful story and it’s definitely worth sharing. Here’s the story …

    THE RUNAWAY

    A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has mentally rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

    She has visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, drugs, and violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes that is probably the last place her parents will look for her. California, maybe, or Florida, but not Detroit.

    Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides: Her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

    The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car—she calls him “Boss”–teaches her a few things that men like. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about the folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring that she can hardly believe she grew up there. She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline, “Have you seen this child?” But by now she has blond hair, and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry she wears, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways, and nobody squeals in Detroit.

    After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear, and it amazes her how fast the boss turns mean. “These days, we can’t mess around,” he growls, and before she knows it she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. When winter blows in she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word—a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

    One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossomy trees in chase of a tennis ball.

    God, why did I leave? she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better than I do now. She’s sobbing, and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world she wants to go home.

    Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with the answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says, “Dad, Mom, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

    It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? Even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead long ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

    Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

    The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the road, and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

    When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smooths her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. If they’re there.

    She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 family members—brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads “Welcome home!”

    Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She looks through tears and begins the memorized speech, “Dad, I’m sorry. I know … “

    He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”

    And so it is with God’s amazing grace. But what’s so amazing about it, anyway?

    Ask people what they must do to get to return to God and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer.

    All we must do is cry, “Help!” God welcomes home anyone who will have Him and, in fact, has made the first move already.

    That’s what’s so amazing about grace.

    20130509-035148.jpg

    20130509-034619.jpg

    Go All In {Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus}

    20130328-205238.jpg

    Read Luke 10:25-37

    Focus: Luke 10: 27, 37

    27) He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 37) The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus tole him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:27,37)

    The ‘expert in the law’ was testing Jesus. He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. I had to giggle a little about Him quoting scripture to JESUS. Ha! He had no idea that he was talking to the Word made flesh and quoting the Word to the “Word”! Ha! The purpose of the law is not to save from sin, but to produce knowledge of sin…the function of the law is to show man what a guilty sinner we are. Jesus was trying to make a point with this man about following the letter of the law versus following the heart and Spirit of the law, but he didn’t get it. We know this by the way he says, ‘the one’ instead of saying the Samaritan. He knew the answer in his head but not in his heart.

    Love God and Love people. That’s it.

    Makes sense to me that these verses are in this order…. Love God with all of you and love His people. The closer we grow in our walk with God the more we can understand His love and be filled with love for others. All the more reason to be sure I am spending time with Him every day. Jesus is telling us to live as He lived and love as He loves. And, that is loving God supremely with the TOTAL person…go ALL in.…allowing nothing to come between us and God….and then go and love His people like THAT.

    The question started out: Who is my neighbor? but it ended by posing the question: To whom do you prove yourself a neighbor? My neighbor is anyone of any race, creed or social background. The real test of love is action, not just profession. Loving God with all of me and see people as He sees them. ALL are worthy.

     

    God wants us to understand that people are always more important than our schedules, our things, our money, and our time. Helping people means personal sacrifice, but that’s how we show God’s love to them. And we let God love them through us!

     

    I love the picture of Christ here: The Samaritans were despised by the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood. It was a despised and hated Samaritan that stopped to care for the Jew. Jesus came to this world, despised, rejected, and hated….for us. He saw us in our desperate need, had compassion on us. There is nothing….no debt of ours….that He leaves unpaid by the sacrifice…..payment for my soul….for all eternity. His blood paid my sin debt. Woo!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!! (also note that this is a picture of how Jesus extended His hand of love to His own people….the Jews….in spite of how they reject and despise Him)

     

    God Sings and Shouts With Joy

    20121206-073836.jpg

    When I think of the Lord God of the universe…..the Creator of EVERYTHING finding delight in me it seems so surreal. He has loved us so much and I am in awe that He sent His son to die for my sins….me personally an individually…..and you too….personally and individually.

    The Lord Himself exults over us with gladness and sings, resting in quiet ecstasy over us in whom is all His delight. Wow. WOW! Do you feel worthy of that? I don’t! But, it’s true! This awesome and undeserved love stirs within my heart a need to rise up and praise Him.

    The mighty God is with us…walks with us, speaks to us and quiets all the loud stirrings within us with His complete and perfect love. His patient, forgiving love. His peaceful love. His faithful, unending love. His joyous love. His kind love. His gentle love. Alllll of His love……. this awesome, huge love is given to you….brought and introduced first to this world in the form of a baby. Born to die…given to you. And all because he loves you!

    God is with you, mighty to save. He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins. Giving your life to Him quiets and brings rest to your soul. You’ll find confidence in your future for you know He is with you in this life, and in the life to come. He is victorious….therefore those who belong to Him are victorious. Giving your life to Him causes Him great rejoicing. Yes, rejoicing no matter what you’ve done, and who you are, and where you are….He rejoices over you. And you too rejoice with gladness for you know what He rescued you from and forgave you for

    Giving ourselves to Him to love and care for us delights Him and causes Him to break out in a song and shout with joy (rejoicing!). This very day, as the great big mighty God of the universe thinks about us, He is glad, He is delighted, He loves us and it causes Him to sing.

    The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

    It’s Simple

    20121204-070413.jpg
    One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    God’s laws are not burdensome. They can be reduced down to two simple principles:

    Love God and love others

    Love is the primary affection with which we are to relate to God–and do it with our total being…everything…..no holds barred….ALL……

    ……All is a keyword here. Life is so busy and sometimes we are partially focused on God. He wants all of us, not just our leftovers……

    …….There are no “ors” in this, it’s all “ands”…..grouped together with no room for partial pieces. All always means all!

    Love Him with all your heart (affections) and with all your soul (spirit) and with all your mind (intelligence) and with all your strength (will).

    This Christmas season, give Him your heart and let your spirit dance a love song with Him. Allow Him to refresh and renew your mind into right thinking and focus on Him. Say to Him, not my will but Your will be done.

    Making A List and Checking It Twice

    20121203-055910.jpg
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:7-8)

    As much as I try or even want to love on my own strength, I cannot love well and completely unless I am connected to God. Believe me, I’ve done that, and it ain’t pretty.

    When we first know Who God is and experience His love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we are then filled up with a supernatural love that overflows to others…..even those who are hard to love.

    It’s this same supernatural love that God pursues us with. His tender passion is not found in this world, oh, no. This world is full of fragile loves–love that abandons, love that fades, love that divorces, love that is self-seeking, self-pleasing, and plain out selfish….me, me, me, it’s all about me, and right now. This isn’t love….these are “feelings”. God is not that kind of love. Real love is like God who is holy, just, giving, kind, patient, seeking others needs first, never gives up, never looses faith, always hopeful, and endures forever.

    He’s personal and intimate with us in our hearts, in our prayers, and in our lives. His love is everlasting.

    Who Christ is and what He’s done should cause us to act. His generous love and compassion is not to stop with us. We should find ways to show compassion to those who are suffering (even if it is at their own hands) because Christ is compassionate towards us. (Believe me when I tell you that there are days when that alone keeps me going. I could start another blog on that alone….these aren’t empty words here). His love for me is my fuel and lights me up…keeps me fired me up and overflows to others.

    “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving….great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves and in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo

    Here’s your list….check it twice 😉:

  • Love for God can be seen only in love for other people. (4:11-13,16-21,5:2)
  • Love and fear are opposites. (v18)
  • Love is a gift, not a possession. (v10,13,19)
  • Confession of Christ and love of others cannot be separated (vv19-21)
  • God’s love is certain. Christ showed that on the cross. (4:10,14; 5:6)
  • Because He first loved us….

    A Branch for Christmas: the richest gift of all

    20121128-073735.jpg
    “The days are coming”, declares the LORD, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line”; he will do what is just and right in the land.



    God’s grace-filled promise is paid in full in Jesus Christ- the Righteous Branch. He came with a journey of love to carry out and He did it, and did it well….righting wrongs, and bringing justice for all who receive Him.

    Grace: giving us what we don’t deserve. I don’t know about you, but I certainly have done nothing to deserve this kind of love and sacrifice.

    God’s promise is true for my salvation and also just as true for my daily life. In all things (all means all) God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8).

    “In those days and at that time”….God knows what’s going on with you and me. Believe that God will swoop right in at the right time and work for your good. I ask again, do you really think God would love us enough to send His Son to die for us, and not care for us in our daily life? What would be the point? What about that would make us eager to serve Him? No, He’s all about the details of our lives. We just over look Him and aren’t listening for His voice.

    There’s a power of God that you and I can’t even imagine, and that power is at work in us, for us and through us

    This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior…..a King born to die….let’s remember that His love for us is consuming, overwhelming, never ending, awesome, and huge. He brought salvation to us, and He also brought an invitation….a front row seat to allow Him to work in us, for us and through us in such powerful ways.

    What a mighty and loving God we serve!

    Thank You, Lord for our Christmas Branch….a Branch for Christmas is the richest gift of all!

    Walk in loving power, and at the edge of your seats with the King.

    Full Tank: He Holds No Good Thing

    20121119-065226.jpg

    This is our “Thank Tank”

    20121119-065419.jpg

    It’s a wonderful container that I got as a gift and turned into a thank tank years ago when my children, who are now 23 (next week) and 18, were very young. The card I placed in the top says,

    “Thank Tank”
    That my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 30:12)

    And this poem:
    Consider what the Lord has done for you and those you love; then give Him thanks with hearts of praise for blessings from above

    20121119-065820.jpg

    It’s been filled with lots and lots of notes. Personal ones that are only for God. These notes are written by my family and countless other people who have been in our home over the years. Small groups. Teenagers spending the weekend for a youth group function. Traveling choirs filled with strangers that come and fill my home to the brim. Grown ups as we talk and praise God for His goodness.

    20121119-070125.jpg

    So many memories of year round teaching groups of girls, and guys and seeing them grab the empty pages and write their hearts on them

    20121119-070435.jpg

    This tank is full of thanks to Him for blessings passed, and blessings coming. Hopes confirmed by seeing His hand, and hopes confirmed by the promise of His hand.

    This year finds me in the same place. I look back over the years and see His victorious hand through many, many, MANY hard things. The joy in the many, many, MANY wonderful things. And just like in Matthew 14:20, when the disciples took the remnants of the blessed miracle of feeding the 5,000 men into their future, I take mine and give thanks for all He has done, is doing, and will do.

    God is the same God that has done all He’s done. God is the same God that is doing all He is doing. God is the same God that will do all He’s going to do. His hands are capable. I trust His hands. No matter what, He knows me better than I know myself and His bountiful love will always fill my life full and over flowing into my future too. He loves us and holds no good thing from His children.

    That my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 30:12)

    Forever

    How Do You Live Out Your Love For God?

    20121118-075500.jpg

    I read this story online somewhere(?) and wrote it down:

    A tired father came home from work, grabbed his newspaper, and settled into his favorite chair with a sigh of relief. All he wanted was a little peace and quiet. All that his young son wanted was his daddy. The little boy raced into the room and asked, “Dad, can I get you something to drink?” The man lowered his newspaper, smiled and replied, “No, thanks. I’m not thirsty. I just want to read the paper.” He then raised his newspaper and resumed reading. The little boy thought for a moment and then said a little louder, “Dad, can I get you something to eat?” The slightly exasperated father lowered his paper and said, “No son, I just want to read the paper!” As the father resumed his reading, the little boy tried again. “Dad, can I get you……..” but before the little boy could finish his question, the now irritated father lowered his paper and demanded, “What is it that you want son?” The little boy sighed and gazed into his father’s eyes as he explained,

    “I don’t want anything, Dad.”

    “I just love you so much that I have to do something about it.”


    How do you live out your love for God?

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deut 6:5)