The Lid Is Coming Off The Box

Pink boxes 2

(FreeImages.com/NathalieDulex)

It was two years ago this April that the Lord did some major healing in my life.  I had a broken image of my identity and calling, and God restored that.  I remember when He showed me a picture of this beautifully-wrapped, pink gift.  He spoke to my heart and told me that He had a calling upon my husband’s and my life that was more beautiful than I had ever imagined!  I remember the tears and the healing those words brought to me.

The calling wasn’t because my husband and I are so wonderful or qualified in ourselves.  Rather, He qualifies the called. 

This year, I am seeing the lid coming off the gift of His calling upon our lives.  I am a bit nervous but also excited!  Humbled by the privilege of serving with Him! Humbled with the honor of bringing others to Him and sharing Him so that the “captives might be set free!”

Jesus has a calling upon each of our lives — a purpose that far exceeds our wildest dreams!

The calling is wrapped up in Himself — in His image.  Our destiny, worth, and image is tied within the gift of Jesus Himself!

Recently, my husband and I were having a conversation, and the Lord revealed with burning clarity the truth of why we need to know that our worth, identity, and purpose is in Jesus.

If we are looking for worth and identity in ministries, in missions, in a church, in relationships, in appearance, in education, in vocation, etc…, we will encounter a lot of rejection that we will take on as our own.  We will struggle with a lot of pride, comparisons, envy, judgment, hurt, and insecurity.

On the other hand, if we understand that our identity is in Jesus, we will be completely secure, fulfilled, and “whole.”  Why?  Because we will know this…

Jesus is our identity! 

Because Jesus is eternal, perfect, and unconditional, we can rest secure in Him — never feeling that our reflection is marred or rejected because of the opinion of someone else!

Let me restate that:

We can rest secure in Him — our true identity — because He is eternal, flawless, and secure, full of unconditional love!

Our identity is in Jesus!

Who He is is who we are in Him!

Walk In Your Own Skin

door

(FreeImages.com/Griszka Niewiadomski)

I recently read a blog post where the author was attacking men who hold doors open for women.  She was stating that such actions devalue women and is too reminiscent of the misogynist, patriarchal culture.  The blog post talked a lot more about other things as well, but I wrote this in response to the part about holding open doors and being a gentleman:

What is so atrocious about teaching men to be respectful and gentlemanly?

What is also so wrong with allowing men to treat us with the value we are and deserve?

I am not a man, AND I am glad I am not.

Guys can’t do the things I can do, and I can’t do everything they can do. You know what?  That’s okay! 

If we are all the same, what fun is there?

Part of the coolness of us is our uniqueness.

Why do we keep trying to force women to be like men and men to be like women?

Trying to treat us the same or judge us based on our “sameness” is actually contrary to valuing a woman. It devalues a woman by trying to say she is only valuable if she is like a man.

I don’t have to be like someone else or like another gender to have value.

I am valuable because I am me — uniquely me!  No one else on this entire planet is just like me.

I do myself a disservice when I try to be someone else. I am, in essence, saying that I am only valuable if I am like that other person, other gender, or other thing.

It’s time we start accepting our own skin and being comfortable in it — regardless of who agrees or disagrees with us.

I want to repeat that one line:

“It’s time we start accepting our own skin and being comfortable in it.”

The issue isn’t what other people have tried to say we are or aren’t, who have tried to dominate us, constrain us, rename us.  The issue is when we allow those opinions to define us.

I am not weak or inferior because I am a woman, nor do I need to prove that I am more valuable by trying to conform myself to someone else’ preferences or likeness. 

I understand the frustration and abuse that women have experienced throughout the years because of oppressive societies and harmful philosophies concerning women, but when I react to them by trying to prove that I am the same as men, am I not actually giving more credence to the very dogma I am trying to stand against? 

Am I not saying that my value cannot stand in its own merits; therefore, I have to conform to the merits of the opposite gender?

The truth is I am me —  not anyone else.

To try to change the essence of who I am (who I was created to be) is the biggest rejection of my own value and purpose and image.

Note: I am not saying that we don’t stand up for justice and freedom from oppression.  I am addressing that we have gone too far the other way — that we have lost the appreciation for our own uniqueness.  We have rejected our very created beings and have become in many ways another form of the very thing that we have hated: selfishness, anger, bitterness…

When I believe the lie or react to the lie by believing a different lie, I merely find myself trading one kind of poisonous leaf for a different kind.  They look different, but the end result is it chokes out the very core of my created being and worth. I think I am walking in freedom, but I have merely exchanged one type of poison for another kind.

The Dance Card

dance

(FreeImages.com/SriVatsa)

I sat there in church, soaking in the worshipful music and lyrics, allowing the music and words to soothe my heart.

My heart was saddened with a weighty decision ahead of us.  Either outcome required sacrifice and a sense of loss.  My husband and I were torn…

Each word of the message seemed directed right at us: the entreaty to trust the Lord, to not avoid the discomfort of the hard decision, and to not neglect His will and calling upon us.

The night before, I had sat in a meeting and kept seeing this picture of Jesus stretching out His hands to me.  I saw the beautiful, nail-pierced hands.  For some reason, I kept getting this impression that He was imploring me to take His hands.  I didn’t realize the significance of that until more than a day later.  He was asking me to walk with Him, to “take His hands,” to trust Him.

As I sat in church Sunday, suddenly, I saw this picture of a dance card (odd that such would come to me), and then it was as if I heard His voice.  He spoke to my heart, and I “heard” these words: “[…], may I write my name on every slot on your dance card?  Will you dance your life with Me?”

God knew my deepest needs.  He knew that in order to take His “hand” and to trust Him, I also needed reassurance of His love.  He didn’t command that I obey Him, but He asked me, while at the same time, reminding me of the depth of His love for me and that there is also joy in His will.  He wanted me to dance with Him…!

I am still pondering that one…  It was so unexpected!  After something like that, I want to question this and wonder if it was all in my head, and then I remember that He does love me that much!  He does ask me to trust Him but never without reassuring me of the unceasing merits of His love — the depths that have no end and the heights that have no ceiling…!

The question for you and I is:

“Do I want Him to claim me for every dance on the dance card of my life?”

There is freedom there!

wedding

(FreeImages.com/LioraZakai)

Save

The Brave Voice

shadows

(FreeImages.com/GerardoAlvarez)

The woman, brushed back her brown hair, pensively looked at the computer screen one more time, and bravely wrote the words.  With a simple click of the mouse, her words were posted.  They were words, expressing something that she cared about and appreciated.  She had asked for feedback on her post, and she was not disappointed by the amount of comments she received.  They poured in.  The post had definitely “plucked a few strings.”

The feedback was very honest.  Some was super positive, some was very doubtful, some was skeptical, and some was clearly negative.  She had asked for honest feedback, and she had received it.

At first, some of the feedback stung.  The words were raw in their honesty.

As the woman read all of the comments, she realized that she could view the responses two ways: she could take them as rejection and/or harsh criticism, but that wouldn’t be fair because she had asked for honesty.  The other choice would be to feel honored that people felt safe enough to voice their opinions to her.

One commentator even apologized for voicing some skepticism, and she quickly assured that person that they should never apologize for having a voice.

Every day, we have these moments — these encounters with others — when we choose how we will respond to the voices around us…

Over the past year, I have been feeling called into this place of freedom — a place where I can have the courage to speak and to not feel it necessary to apologize for my voice.  …apologizing for my existence.

It is not a matter of being offensive with my voice because that would be a different matter.

It is a matter of answering this defining question: 

“How will you respond when the temptation is to shut down, to hide, to walk away from freedom because of the fear of the risk and the fear of rejection?”

Here are thoughts that I recently wrote:

“There is an enemy that wants us to apologize for existing, wants us to fade into the background, wants us to hide behind our fears and insecurities and rejection, wants us to not exist…

There is a Lover/Creator who keeps telling me to not apologize for being, thinking, believing, and feeling.

He keeps telling me that He placed His voice inside me, and that regardless of who agrees or doesn’t or who likes me or not, that I am to stand bravely and securely because I am unfathomably, completely, lavishly loved!

This entire past year, the Lord kept telling me, “[…], you know your freedom; now walk in it.”

It brings tears to my eyes every time I am made aware of how He is changing me, making me brave, helping me to become His warrior-princess!

Am I perfect? Far from it!

Do I make mistakes? Daily.

BUT, this I know: I am learning the freedom of being completely secure in eternal, unceasing, undeserved Love!

…and I am learning the beautiful humbling merits of His grace!

Grace… The Great Exchange!

Grace

(FreeImages.com/KaiNorneby)

It’s easier to talk grace more than live it, and living it is also about recognizing that God wants to use us now — even when we aren’t perfect.

We often want to wait until everything is scrubbed “clean,” but God wants to use us now. He says, “Give me your brokenness, and I will give you my wholeness.”

Grace is the great exchange.

It’s the recognition that I can’t, will never be enough, but I don’t have to. …because He was and is enough!

Grace is the freedom and security in knowing we don’t stand in our own merits and appearance of perfection. We stand in His merits and therein lies grace.

Grace is a position of victory because it is the supremacy of the cross over everything — every sin, every wound, every weakness.

Grace doesn’t excuse sin. It cancels sin’s power, and it cancels Satan’s burdens of shame and guilt. It puts it all where it belongs: at the foot of the cross.

So amazing and so beautiful!

Monday

Loved this post! So speaks of what God has been gently whispering into the depths of my heart…!  Reblogging from a fellow Blogger-Mommy…

jo's boys

I watched the sun rise and slowly chase away low-lying fog outside, curled in my big chair under my robe, coffee mug in hand and Bible open…but my mind was not on my reading.

My mind was already bombarded with anxious thoughts. So many things to do today. I mentally ran through my to-do list and I knew there was no way I could do it all. I dislike starting a Monday feeling behind, but here I was at 6:30 AM already behind.

And then, like the sun slowly warming the sleeping earth, my anxious thoughts began to clear.

img_3645

What stresses me? Things I wanted in my life to begin with.

The work I prayed for. Jobs I asked for.

Teaching my children and passing on to them my love of learning. Practicing hours of music everyday and the joy of watching them gradually turn into little musicians.

A home that is untidy…

View original post 242 more words

Abortion & The March For Life

hammer to fall

(FreeImages.com/MarceloGerpe)

Today was the annual March for Life — an event that protests the 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court that legalized abortion in the United States of America.

My son was able to participate in the March for Life today. As I prepared him for the day with plenty of food and warm clothes, I couldn’t help but worry for his safety because of concern over the potential violence of protestors.  I considered whether I should send him or not but decided this was a great opportunity for him to understand the importance of an unborn baby’s right to live.  (It’s “funny” how my kids get the simplicity of this truth and don’t need long explanations.)   I was thankful that my son gets to experience a part of  what I participated in as a child and teenager.

My life and pro-life convictions were forever impacted when my parents offered to adopt a married woman’s unwanted baby. This woman was told by her abortionist that she couldn’t have her 7th abortion because it was too risky.  She and her husband were professional people with good careers and had two “older” children.

Because this woman couldn’t obtain an immediate abortion, she began to look into other options and was eventually connected to my parents.  My parents began the process of seeking to adopt the unborn baby.

Fast forward a short amount of time, and I will never forget that moment that will forever be etched in my mind…

I was with my sister at a highschool event, and we got the call from my mom that our future baby brother had lost his life. The woman had finally found an abortion clinic that would perform a high-risk abortion (high-risk because of the danger to a mother with so many abortions), and she went through with her 7th abortion.

I remember how upon hearing the news, I found a secluded spot and wept — wept for the life of a baby who didn’t get a chance to live, wept for my future brother that I would never get to hold and love, wept for a life ended over the convenience of the mother. After that life-changing event, I decided to become a voice of social justice — justice for the most helpless.

I would never tell another woman what to do with her body, but this isn’t about another woman’s body. It’s about what is done to an innocent life, housed within her body.

No one should ever be given the power to decide the validity or value of another being’s life. When we stoop to that level, we stoop to a level that has no limits to its cruelty.

We must see the abortion issue clearly. Forget the deceptive wording. This isn’t about a woman’s choice. This is about an unborn baby’s right to life!

A woman has a choice before she becomes pregnant. After that, the choice is no longer the woman’s alone. Then, it becomes the right to life that takes precedent.

In fact our Declaration of Independence decrees that all persons have an unalienable right to life.

In honor of that baby boy that was to have been my brother, I will forever defend the unborn baby’s right to life.

Philip, this is for you!  You see, dear brother of my heart, I have not forgotten you, and your life lives on in a powerful legacy — a legacy that gave me the courage to be an advocate for other vulnerable lives just like yours.

Philip, you are not forgotten!

Your life was not in vain.

Truth Is Only Truthful To Itself

The Truth Shall Make You Free

(FreeImages.com/yournewven)

I just read this comment from a younger friend on Facebook:

I saw this post from a teacher that said that her student asked her if her answers to the math problems could be considered “alternative facts”; because the teacher said she got them wrong, and she didn’t like that. What? Since when did we become so tolerant that we don’t even regard common sense anymore? The laws of the universe? And that’s not being dramatic. Math is involved with physics, which help us translate what is going on in the universe.

My response to this:

This just proves once again the absurdity of deciding there is no absolute truth! Our universe operates on certain standards… We indeed walk away from intelligent conclusions, truthful answers, and reliable outcomes if we refuse to acknowledge that there are principles that we cannot control or manipulate according to our own whims or passions. I have said this before, but truth is only truthful to itself.

Let me say that again:

Truth is only truthful to itself.

As much as we may dislike a rule, standard, principle, or conclusion, we cannot twist the truth to please ourselves. 

Would we really want that anyway?

Would we want “truth” to be altered to please whomever defined it at the moment for themselves?

Would that not be the opposite of truth?

The reliable thing about truth is that it is a standard that is above the mere whims of people. 

Truth is above the opinions of people. 

Truth is above the preferences of people. 

Truth is above the passions of people.

I went to Dictionary.com for the meaning of truth, and the follow popped up:

noun, plural truths [trooth z, trooths] (Show IPA)
1.

thetrueor actual state of a matter:

He tried to find out the truth.
2.

conformity with fact or reality; verity:

the truth of a statement.
3.

a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like:

mathematical truths.
4.

the state or character of beingtrue.
5.

actuality or actual existence.
6.

an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7.

honesty; integrity;truthfulness.
While Googling truth, I came across this article, and I am posting only a segment of it:

What Is Truth?

Truth has always been accompanied by a doubled-mindedness. It is something that people claim to want, but few can bear. Socrates searched for it. Jesus bore witness to it, and Pilate answered, albeit rhetorically, “What is truth?” Truth is seeing things as they really are and ascribing to them their appropriate valuations. It is an identity that rises above mere opinion and affirmatively corresponds to a reality that transcends itself. Jack Nicholson says that we can’t handle it, while the Son of Man holds that it sets us free. Truth is a lot like virtue — in that most everyone claims to desire it, but the general consensus deep down is that they would rather have pie.

Yes, people do not always welcome it, when, like a Jehovah’s Witness, it comes knocking at their doors. For much of humanity, self-deception holds a more soothing comfort: for illusions are fuzzy and forgiving like jogging pants. Some people never look in the mirror because of truth and tests are constructed in order to determine if we know what people say it is. And if you are standing before a judge or fighting a war, it would seem a very good thing to have truth on your side — or an M-16.

The ancients equated it with wisdom. The Enlightenment valued it as a tool of emancipation from a world it was trying to bury. The post-moderns, beginning with Nietzsche, however, denied its ultimate existence and brashly claimed that the whole historical veneration of truth was merely a cynical means to secure power. Their legacy to us, one that is even now being chipped away, is that truth is perspectival — one man’s truth is another man’s false narrative.

Here is an interesting video on truth: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/what-is-truth-video.htm.

In a post-modern culture when opinions and standards seem to be as shifting as sand, may we look past ourselves to that which is greater than ourselves — to Truth Himself.

 

 

What Is A Christian?

Notre Dame Cathedral

(FreeImages.com/ElizabethDorsett)

I identify as being a Christian and so do many of my friends and family members, but what does it mean to be a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Does it mean one who does good works, seeks social justice for all, and dedicates their life to serving others?

Does it mean following rituals, traditions, and specific orders within the church?

Does it mean disassociating oneself from mainstream “Christianity” and following your own “simpler” form of “worship”?

Does it mean preaching at everyone you meet?

Does it mean living as free from obvious sinful practices and associations as possible?

Is Christianity about what we do?

What does the name Christian actually mean?  It means little Christ.

In other words, it means a follower, family member, representative of Christ.  Simply, it’s one who believes in Jesus and as a believer in Jesus follows and represents Jesus to others.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.

The above verse talks about what Christians do.

As Christians, it’s easy to confuse what should be a product of being a Christian as defining what a Christian is.  In itself, this doesn’t sound bad, but it is dangerous if you define who you are by what you do.

Rather, who we are should define what we do.  Stay with me…  I will try to explain this a little better.

Why is this dangerous?

It is dangerous because you can confuse Christianity as being about what we do rather than about our relationship with God.  We can do things that define a Christian without actually ever coming close to God Himself and facing what we believe about Him.

You see, Christianity is truly about what we believe about Jesus Christ/God HimselfUntil we face that question, we actually are not true Christians.  We may be religious and morally upright or socially just but can still be lacking an intimate walk with the Lord.

In fact, we can hide behind our religious practices, traditions, social work, moral uprightness, equality, and tolerance to avoid facing the ultimate question: “What do you believe about Me?” 

Self-righteousness is the ultimate expression of selfishness and pride.  Rebellion hides within its folds. 

I am not advocating ignoring how we live or abandoning all Christian traditions.  What I am challenging us to do is to examine our relationship with God and our belief in God. 

Church services, tithing generously, community service, religious books are not a legitimate substitute for a relationship with God Himself.  In fact, all of the trappings and practices of religion are simply an empty shell without the Spirit and Presence of God indwelling.

May I note that it is the empty shell that is the cause of why so many “Christian” youth are leaving the church in droves.  They saw the shell, but the shell crumbles under pressure and offers no sustenance to the spirit of man.

It is the Spirit of God and His love that fills a church body and His people with life-changing, soul-stirring, and spirit-reviving power!

Focusing all of our attention on the traditions or distinctions of our church practices can be an easy distraction from dealing with the pulse of an individual’s heart and relationship with God. 

We can focus so much attention on the distinctions that set us apart, on our ministries, programs, and stained glass windows that we forget that Christianity isn’t about “temple-gazing” but about “King-seeking” (words in quotes are taken from the Community Bible Study Mark Lesson 15 study).

Isaiah 29:13

13 Therefore the Lord said:

“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

What a powerful exhortation that above verse is!

I would like to end with the following quotes taken from the Community Bible Study Mark Lesson 15 study.  In Mark 15, we were studying the Pharisees and religious leaders’ responses to Jesus.  In their day, they were the religious elite, the “righteous ones,” the rulers, and the compromisers with the local Roman government.  Yet, Jesus reveals the emptiness of the souls and spirits of these religious people.

In light of the following quote, may we all examine our hearts as to what we are truly pursuing under the title of “Christianity.”

“Is it possible to build a temple and forget the One it was intended to honor?  Had the religious community become so enamored of the temple and its traditions that they failed to see the King?

We, like those 1st-century Jews, must not put our trust in the trappings of our religion [or churches or programs].

…Buildings, programs, and traditions are important, but they are temporal.  God and His Kingdom are eternal.”

Why The Name?

Hello My Name Is

(FreeImages.com/blogmonkey)

Why is it that the name of Jesus holds so much power?

Sitting in church this morning (1/15/17), I was thinking about this — that the name of Jesus itself holds so much power.  I considered: “Why?”

What is it about the name?

The name Jesus means Jehovah Saves.

No other name has or ever will be able to save anyone from their sins.  That’s the power of His name!

His name means release — freedom from all that entangles the soul and spirit and the sound of the clanking of shackles as they hit the ground…

His name means the sound of peace — peace that  transcends down into the soul and that has no contingency upon the things that surround its environment or circumstances.

His name is the sound of joy — sound that reverberates in sound waves from absolute release and ecstasy of spirit.

His name is the sound of death melting away and the explosion of “true” life!

His name is the full expression of the Father’s heart as seen in Jesus, the Son — the sound of absolute, unconditional love.

Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Acts 4:12

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

When you study Jesus, you either hate Him because He is the diametric opposite of selfishness, greed, and pride (human nature) or you love Him because you see a heart of love that always seeks to give, heal, save, and restore.

What we often forget is that by knowing Jesus, we know the Father.

So often, God The Father is perceived as cold, removed, harsh, but in reality, Jesus reveals what the heart of God is like.  He is forgiving, healing, life-restoring, impartial, just, humble, truth-speaking, and willing to sacrifice His best for us!

John 14:7

The Father Revealed

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

John 14:9

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 8:9

Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

John 10:38

38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe[a] that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

John 16:3

And these things they will do to you[a] because they have not known the Father nor Me.

Luke 10:22

22 All[a] things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Matthew 11:27

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

As we consider the name of Jesus may we be challenged to examine what the name of Jesus means to us personally?

His name is the dividing ground because it reveals what’s in our hearts and forces us to make a choice.  It is a choice to identify with a name that never sought the popularity of public opinion nor to gratify selfish desires but who calls us to Himself.  He calls us to Himself in a way that means we need to let go of the self-motivating disguises for being religious or the self-serving reasons for turning away and following our own pursuits.

Jesus means we simply come as we are — in all of our brokenness and woundedness.  We leave it all behind — every sinful pleasure and every selfish ambition, and we enter into the life and inheritance, promised and fulfilled in Jesus!

Save

Save