Tag Archives: identity

Unlikely Love (pt. 2)

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.  Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.      Isaiah 35:1-2

While Satan may be considered the most unlikely to show love, Jesus was, perhaps the most unnoticed, therefore unlikely, to be Love.

Imagine, the God of the universe arriving on the scene as Son of Man.  This is perhaps the most unexpected, undeniable and unnoticed expression of love ever known.  The God, who was, and is, and is to come came as all of us come to this world — through birth.  Thankfully, we don’t remember much of this experience personally, but as adults we become increasingly more aware of what it entails.  While it brings joyfulness, it involves much pain and discomfort.  Wouldn’t it had been easier if God had come as a man?  Stepping from among the forest in the heat of the midday sun to feed the hungry and quench the thirst of the parched?  Where’s the love in that?

Instead, Christ came as a baby in the most lowly of places — a manger.  Here’s God, the Son of God becoming the Son of Man.  Here’s God, the Creator of all things — sun, moon and stars in part — confined to the needs of a baby, in all humanity.

Christ the Son needed God the Father, and through His bones, through His emotions, through His feelings, through His hunger and thirst, through His grieving, through His sadness, through His sorrow, through His joy, all the glory and love of God lived.

Then, in the biggest exchange of life of all time, as though His birth and life were not enough, His love is demonstrated in His death and resurrection.  A true moment of selflessness and compassion for all mankind, so all could have fellowship with Him and be with Him in paradise.

Heaven on earth, a rather unlikely place to find it.  But Christ by way of His birth, His life, His death and resurrection allows me to live heaven on earth.  Not because of anything I have done, but rather because of everything He has done.  In me IS Christ and through Him I live so that His glory can be.

Unnoticed, unexpected . . . very unlikely, pure LOVE!

Thank you Lord Jesus for making it possible to abide in you all day and every day of my life.  I’m sad to think of how much I have placed you in a box and on a shelf in my life, may it no longer be.  Regardless of the pains in life I experience of which you are all too familiar, may I always know and believe that in your abiding love there is joy unspeakable and full glory!

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love:  not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   I John 4:7-10

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Unlikely Love (pt. 1)

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  I Corinthians 11:14

The masquerade ball . . . a dance of mystery mixed with curiosity and intrigue.  The chance to be and to meet someone through dazzling masks and suave expressions of love.  It so easily entices the senses and persuades the mind to the pursuit.  Yet, beneath the distraction lies a heart that appears to be love.

Paul, too, was concerned about this dance of deception.  His cry to the Corinthians in his letter was because of the false teachings of Jesus by others.  He reminded them of his intent to introduce them, as a bride of purity to Christ.  But, through listening to the voices of others preaching falsely about Christ, Paul calls a spade a spade by outing the deception of Satan through their being “led astray from [their] sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

How easily we become entangled in the web of deception.  When Satan’s minions, his servants, masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness we fall for the most unlikely love.  The masquerade that so deceives our mind, deceives our hearts.  It’s not love at all!

Since the dawn of time, Satan has had a vengeance against the One who banished him from the heavens.  His mission is to destroy Christ and all He represents.  His battle is not against man, I am but no trouble to him.  Unless, however, Christ, who is my life, reigns in and through me!  That changes things!

This battle that rages though, is not to be fought by me — I’ll never win — but Christ, who lives in me fights on my behalf!  It’s allowing Christ to be Christ in me, through me — Christ my life!

And, yet, Christ who IS love, is quite the unlikely love when he arrived on scene as a baby to the dance of life . . . unnoticed.

Lord Jesus, I know that Satan is the great deceiver!  I know too, that you have every battle I face.  When I stray, and I will, remind me of your light, the True light.  Reveal in my mind and my heart the most unlikely love Satan portrays for me through his lies and remind me of the Love you ARE!

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The Abnormal Norm

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

This morning I experienced a strong feeling of sadness.  While driving and thinking on the circumstance I couldn’t help but think also of the immense sadness God the Father must experience as He observes the abnormality of the world.

This place, once created and reserved for pure love, absolute peace, utter joy and full fellowship with the Father has, like silver exposed to the air, tarnished with sin.  Life has been set into motion and decay has become the norm.  Right?  After all, death is imminent.  For me, it’s all I’ve known and because I’ve refused to see the forest for the trees, I’ve accepted abnormal for today’s norm.  The entire gauge of what should be was reset and my heart, over time, drifted so far from the Father I replaced in my mind abnormal for normal.

But God’s intent was never for us to live as dysfunctional children within a dysfunctional world.  His plan all along was pure fellowship with Him in the healthiest of gardens where God walked among the ferns.  And that blasted snake ruined everything!  But just when he thought he got the upper-hand and continued to destroy all that God created, God did something so abnormal no one even noticed!  He came to earth!

God Himself in full perfection-sinless, became abnormal — abnormally abnormal.  And on that tender, sad, yet victorious day, Jesus said it was finished.  Jesus became The abnormal norm.  The consequences of sin continue to play out in the lives of those who choose to follow anything contrary to Christ, but Jesus paid the price and created a new place to dwell, in full fellowship by becoming my life!  And while the world measures abnormal against its standards, God measures my normal by Who lives in and through me!

Lord Jesus, today I’m sad for many reasons, but in the midst of this I am filled with joy that comes from knowing that the lies of the world are not what you use to measure what is normal!  May my life reflect a normal that the world sees as abnormal because the world does not know you like I know you!  Let those who do not understand why I serve you the way I serve you see in me a full measure of you.  I know that Anything + Me = a Mess!  And I know that Everything – You = Nothing . . . which means,  You + Nothing = EVERYTHING!

God saw all that he had made and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

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Bull Crap

–conflicts on the outside, fears within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us . . .   II Corinthians 7:5b-6a

In John Eldredge’s book, The Beautiful Outlaw he writes about the cunning nature of Jesus during his ministry on earth.  It is definitely a characteristic I’ve rarely associated with Christ and one, quite honestly, difficult to apply.  My Savior — sly and sneaky?  In some ways it is very much so, but in order to fulfill His purpose it was necessary for Him to do the impossible — hated, hunted and hung.

It was the greatest measure of dramatic irony time has ever witnessed.  God knew the end of this story, yet everyone, including satan himself, never saw it coming.  His cunning nature introduced me to a new aspect of Christ’s person that I had never considered.  An aspect of His humanity mixed with the foreknowledge of God unfolded before me Christ — to whom I can say the darndest things!

I know, there seems to be a leap from learning more of His cunning nature to the ability to express myself to Him.  But, it’s not so much how unbelievably smart Christ was [is] as much as it’s about how much He understands how scary it is to live on this earth.  He knows first-hand about hungry wolves and the sheep they appear to be.

And so, as I pulled into the parking spot, it just rolled off my tongue like He was sitting in the seat next to me.  He was near!  I spoke to Him a little different than I normally do.  I said with a muddled tone, “Bull crap!  That’s bull crap and you know it!  Right?  It’s bull crap right?”  And while serious as a heart attack with Him, I paused for a moment and busted out laughing!  I just said “bull crap” to my Jesus!  And He understood me!

I replayed that moment in my head over and over throughout the day.  I had thoughts of whether it was the right thing to say to Him, should I have said it different, and why would I even ask Him that question.  But then He reminded me that I wasn’t the first person to ever talk with Him like that — the disciple who denied Him and the disciple who betrayed Him said it in much different contexts as well.  The text is not the same, but the meaning certainly is.

Why do I mention these things?  It’s to remind me of the Comforter in Him.  He gets me!  Just like I am!  He knows my circumstances and I can be honest with Him, real with Him, expressive with Him as He comforts me and I take refuge in Him!

Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to be me with you!  In those moments of shedding facades and becoming vulnerable, show me the path you’ve paved for me and continue to give me wisdom as I step with you!

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.  For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.  Psalm 4:11-12

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A New Day

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.   Psalm 90:12

Today is pretty simple for me — it began as a new day, a new hour, a new minute, a new second — and all of them without doubt have come through His mercy and grace as a gift!

Today is not mine, it’s His and He is sharing it with me — through me!

This hour is not mine, it’s His and He is sharing it with me — through me!

This minute is not mine, it’s His and He is sharing it with me — through me!

This second is not mine, it’s His and He is sharing it with me — through me!

But . . .

unless I allow Him by receiving this gift and abiding in Him I live under today’s laws.  Freedom to live each day a new day is resting in the comfort that comes from knowing who I am in Christ and through Him, in all things, I gain a heart of wisdom!

Lord Jesus, may today, this hour, this minute, this second not go by without being in step with your Spirit within me!  Give me wisdom as we walk together today!

All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.  II Chronicles 9:23

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Abiding and Doing and Praying, Oh my!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

It has been throughout my entire life that I have lived and placed myself under the law of Christianity.  Like an anvil on my heart and mind, the law has taught me to be a slave, to answer to it’s judicial ways.  Without realization, I have shaped my view of Christianity into nothing more than religiosity and with that guilt, shame and failure always follows.

But I am not subject to the burden of the law because I have been set free through the life of Christ living in and through me.  And it is in this spot I find myself this morning.  Thinking on how I abide in Him, thinking on what I do to measure up and reflecting on what conversations I have with Him.  Why these things?  Well, it’s me taking a look at me in the mirror, asking and seeing if today I’m in the will of my Father.  It’s me getting snagged up on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and examining my own heart of joy and measure of thanks in all things in continual prayer.

I have become so very proud of my own journey.  Look at me!!  And in it, I have come to establish my own routines of prayer and writing, finding comfort and worth in my own efforts to transform me. (There’s a whole lot of me in this!)  But there is NO amount of me that has the power to transform anything about me!  There is NO level of commitment or consistent routine that will reward me.  The temporary glue to hold my own fruit to the vine will never remain.  But the fruit that grows from the vine of Christ that lives in and through me will nourish the soul forever!  This comes when I abide in Him!

I remember one season when I planted in my garden sweet potatoes for the first time.  Not really knowing what I was doing and only with an idea of how it was done I planted the small potato eyes and walked away.  That harvest season I had more sweet potatoes than I knew what to do with — a true abundance!  This is exactly how Christ wants us to abide in Him always!  And when I do, the abundance of fruit from the heart will be more than enough.  It’s a way of leaning, a way of communicating, a way of letting.  For Christ who lives in me is my life!

Lord Jesus, I never want to get caught up in the religiosity of serving you!  My relationship is not a set of laws, but covered in an abundance of grace, through your unconditional love for me and rests in your hands.  My schedule is not your will unless it is your schedule for me.  May I journey abiding in you, in all things, always!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23

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Allow or Try

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.   Colossians 3:4

My whole life I have tried hard to be something I am not.  I wished it weren’t so, but the amount of energy I have spent in my futile attempts to live at being the best Christian I could possibly be has fallen just short of exhausting.  It has robbed me of experiencing the life God has intended and exchanged it for dependence upon false fulfillment and a crisis of identity.  My heart rejoices in knowing this treasure of realization has been discovered, but is coupled by sadness as with it has been a lifetime of destruction.

Lord knows I have tried and in my efforts only found the worthless jewel of failure.  But why?  Kudos to me for getting back upon the horse each time, but why am I so apt to fall off so many times over?  Are my efforts in vain?  Am I not good enough?  Am I just that horrible of a Christian?  Even Paul cries out about himself, “What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:24)

But I am reminded of the life I NOW live!  A life not of worthlessness, but instead — victory!  Not because of anything I can do, but because of everything He has done.  It is not me trying to measure up to certain standards or conditions in order to demonstrate the life I ought to live, but instead finding the correct Who in which to use as a reference point to measuring up.  See, my reference point is no longer me trying to live a certain way and hiding failure from those I love, instead it is allowing Christ who is MY life live out who He is through me so that I may be a glory-carrier!

I cannot live the Christian life, only one person can do that and that is Christ!  So as long as I continue striving to live up to a standard of doing what the Bible says, doing all the right things, treating everyone a certain way, being to everyone what they think I should be, then of course, I’m going to fail.  Because I have to learn how to allow Christ, as my life, to radiate through me!  I have to learn more about what it means to allow Christ to live His life through me.  When I do — my actions no longer reflect a neediness, my attitude no longer drips with pity, my relationships reflect Christ’s love and my life springs with uncontainable glory!

Lord Jesus, I devote myself to allowing your life to live through me!  It says in your word (Romans 6) that through sin the parts of my body are offered as instruments of wickedness, but when I offer myself to you, I offer the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness.  This, I know, is how I live ‘Christ is my life!’  Today, and everyday, I offer the parts of my body as your instruments.  May I pause at the door frame of sin and allow you to live through me!

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.   Romans 6:14

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Knowing All My Ways

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

Personally witnessing another and their journey through life is perhaps the most rewarding and fulfilling blessings we have with each other.  Sitting across the booth from a friend, I listen as she asks a question.  “If He knows what will happen to us, how can we have free will?”  I sat there for a minute.  Clearly a question I’ve also wondered for so many years, but never really tackled.  I knew this was one of those that the best of theologians have attempted to explain and failed at defining it clearly.  Since phoning a friend was not an option, I rested in the peace of knowing who God is and went from there.

While I will not do it justice, this made perfect sense to me!  And since me thinking about it with my friend outloud, it has captured my thoughts all day.  Definitely not a bad thing to think about for sure!  🙂

One of the most commonly used adjectives to describe God is omniscient — meaning, all-knowing.  We often think of this as the way God knows everything about us and so true this is!  But, I believe his knowing of me stretches to the far edges of the universe.  How so you may ask?

Well, we say all the time that God has a plan for me (and you) and wants the best for us, to see us prosper in it and be blessed by it.  But we also know that not so very good things happen to good people all the time.  How so?  Why so?  These are questions we tend to ask when bad things happen.

I believe God has a plan that is VERY GOOD!  But that is not the only path we could take.  I believe God knows every possible combination of options, paths, choices, decisions we have to make AND the outcome of every combination for every option, path, choice and decision.  That’s alot of stuff to know about me!  That’s right, it is — He’s ALL-KNOWING!!

So, how do I know if I’ve made the RIGHT choice, taken the best path, decided to act according to His will?  David speaks about this in Psalm 91.

If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.   Psalm 91:9-12

Do I dwell in the presence of the Most High?  Am I seeking Him as my refuge?  It is in this place where I find the RIGHT choice, the best path, the decision in His will.   And if that path is rocky, rough and potentially fatal?  No sweat, a host of angels have been appointed to watch guard over me — specifically for me!  And even so death may come, Paul reminds us to consider it pure joy!

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”    Matthew 10:39

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Letter From Christ

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim any thing for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.   II Corinthians 3:5

Throughout the last ten months the only handwritten letters I’ve received in the mail have been penned from the hand of my own mother.  Her encouragement, her every day happenings in her garden and around the house, her concerned tone and undeniable firmness, all of which is sealed by her hand.  What a treasure to have!  There’s truly nothing greater than getting a hand-written letter from someone.  It spells love, it communicates the rawness of care and the loyalty of belonging.  It’s value is unmeasurable!

We see this level of value and importance in the working world as well.  Whether it’s in finding a job or applying for school, letters play a vital role.  They endorse!  With a letter people become validated, affirmed and creditable.  And having it written, perhaps even formally prepared, it’s sealed by the author and too, is valuable.

But what if?  What if Christ wrote a letter for me?  What if He sat down and penned a letter about me — what He thought, what He sees in me, what His day was like, what dangers may lie ahead for me, what concerns He has for me, what He really thinks about me?  Oh, Lord Jesus, to have and to hold such a letter would send me to my knees, shaking like a leaf.  It would bring such confidence and assurance knowing those things.  I would read it over and over again.

Word has it He actually has such a letter!  He has made this letter — and it’s ME!  I am a letter from Christ Himself!  And with this letter comes full assurance of who I am, full confidence in who I am, full wisdom in knowing who I am, able to rest in the truth that the Spirit of the One who lives in me gives me all strength and power to face the raging storms and pelting hail that can so easily destroy.   That in my weakness He is the strength that sustains me when I wait in the ravines of life.

Thank you Lord Jesus for writing my life!  Thank you for your daily Word that tells me what you think of me, what your days are like, what concerns you have and how much you love me!  The fact that you have taken the time to sit down, give immense thought in scripting my story and in crimson red, pen a letter — me — is beyond the greatest of any love man can describe!

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?  Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are our letter, written on everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  II Corinthians 3:1-3

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Imperfect Is Perfect

. . . to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.   Galatians 4:5

Another notch on the door frame. Below it is where I was, this notch is where I am today.  But above me is a notch to which I desperately stretch to reach.  I just want to be like _______ (fill in the blank).  Good as them, tall as them, better than them.  How will I possibly measure up?  Will I ever meet expectations, standards, worth . . .  will I ever be good enough?

These questions and more have followed me all of my life.  Not bad questions at all, but ones, nonetheless, that cause my image to take on a disfigured shape depending on the point of personal reference in the who or what that matters most.  Against whom do I measure my worth?  Against what do I place my value and significance?  To whom do I think that I use as a filter in making decisions?  I can think of any number of people or things I’ve measured myself against.

Why is this?  Well, my futile attempts to be perfect, not fail, get props and the pat on the back have carved within my flesh a dependence on earthly acceptance and approval.  Beneath the scars from wounded attempts of measuring up lies the pain and guarded heart that harbors the memory of hurt.  And so long as I look around me for the answers to my questions that pertain to my life, my value and my worth, I will forever be searching a lost cause.

And this, praise the Lord, is not the way He taught!   Instead, my imperfections are perfect to Him so long as I keep my eyes on the One who came “under the law . . . to redeem those under the law” so that I may receive ALL, the FULL rights of, sonship!  In other words, I belong to the King . . . the Creator of all things, including me!!  Measuring up is no longer necessary, because in my imperfection I am adopted — given the fullness of belonging — and with that status, I am fully accepted!

And due to this relationship, I can call on my Dad (Abba, Father), and rest in His peace!

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.   Proverbs 14:30

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