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Don’t judge me

Yesterday I would be attending a wedding.  My friend’s son.  I would be “helping” at the wedding.  If you’ve seen me lately, I’ve packed on a few pounds (I’m sure you’ve noticed).  I have foot problems, back problems and you know those 40+ years old problems.  I want to be comfortable at all times.  If you could buy a pair of fancy sweatpants at David’s Bridal, I would.  “I can’t stand anything binding on my stomach” as my Mee-Maw would say.  So, I needed something that would fit that tall order for the wedding.  After scouring my closet I realized that nothing fit, lots of things were binding and I needed something to match my almost only pair of comfortable shoes which are black.  I found a sweater in Chloe’s closet that she had never worn.  So, I carefully selected my choice of wording as I texted her the question: “Do you care if I borrow a sweater?” I didn’t ask her if I could borrow her brand new sweater with tags still on.  She replied “Nope.”  Thank goodness!  Next call.  My Mother.  “Do you care if I borrow that sweater you got Chloe if she doesn’t care if I borrow it?” “Of course not!” Thank goodness. I must say I looked snazzy for a lady who had on black pants and tennis shoes by night’s end. Don’t judge me! 

It’s a big joke isn’t it.  We want to do whatever we want without the feeling of guilt of fear.  We rationalize these feelings away quite often and if we can find even one person who will side with us we’re good. 

Our Sunday School lesson this morning reminded us that Matthew 7 taken out of context attempts to serve as an excuse to live sloppy lives.  While the actual intent of the scripture is living our lives before God in purity so that our exhortations (when God ordained) are right. John 8 is the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery.  This woman (I believe) setup because we hear nothing of the man was defenseless.  She was a sinner.  She was a sinner caught in her sin.  They had her.  They had Him- or so they thought.  People question what was written in the sand.  As my mind wanders as if I was one of the Pharisees, Jesus stoops and writes “Gina Pasour- promised she would be faithful to her promise to never gossip.  She also committed that her body was the temple of God and she knew that overeating and laziness were sins.  She vowed her love of the body of Christ and said she would act accordingly.” And then He writes violation after violation after violation.  How could I not walk away in shame.  Jesus never said to the lady “mam, they are jerks, don’t worry about it.” Nor did he say “we all make mistakes.”  He said “I have changed your, now live a changed life” (this is my wording).

We are so worried about not offending, political correctness and the like.  If we would worry about living in the light of who we are in Him, then we would be concerned about the right thing and do the right thing.  If Jesus didn’t come 2000 years ago to condemn people, but to offer them salvation, why do believers try to condemn people?  You talk about giving the devil a foothold-that’s the way. When believers serve as condemners we are carnal believers.   It’s about your life first.  My life first.  When we are who we should be in Him, this methodology and formula of conversion would be replaced with trust and belief that God will act.  He wants people to come to Him and He has the power to draw them.  We are the hands and feet.  But He is the head-He’s the director.  It’s not always pretty.  It’s not always easy.  I know right now some of you have children that you’ve had to ask to leave your home.  A spouse who doesn’t know your God.  A friend who thinks you are wrong.  We are called to exhort others and this may be something you’ve given up on.

If you know me at all you know I hate confrontation.  I hate telling you what you are doing wrong, even if you ask me.  I struggle thinking “who am I to say anything?”  I believe James 2 offers insight :

James 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

So much of what enslaves believers is our belief that we are judged by the law that takes freedom, but not so.  Have you ever seen a kid that has misbehaved and the parents are oblivious?  We are being pummeled in the grocery store by a rambunctious three year old wanting to throw the lime he threw at us back upside his little head, but knowing we can’t.  The parent has a smile on her face and we give  her the look of EXTREME disaproval.  We think “HELLO! YOUR KID IS A BRAT!”  This is what our Father God has done for us.  We are accused, and rightfully so outside of Christ.  Satan says “Gina is a rebellious misfit!  Look at her! Look at her!” And God looks at me and sees Christ and Christ’s blood.  I’m sure it’s quite frustrating for Satan.  I’M SURE.  I love the last part verse 13-Mercy triumphs over judgement.  Receive mercy today and give mercy today and you will win!

If anyone ever finds any formal sweatpants-I’m a size L.

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh, the blood of Jesus! It washes white as snow.

Tonight I have a few hours at home by myself.  So I thought “ok, what can I get accomplished realistically.” I decided to clean the two upstairs bathrooms and vacuum upstairs.                                                                                                                                   I vacuumed after the bathrooms and went into what is now the second spare room.  It was Chloe’s room, and then when Meagan moved in for a while after college, it was her room.  She moved out before Christmas and for a few days it was the throw everything in that’s Christmas decor room (until Mark cleaned it out).  As I vacuumed I realized this was a good room to clean.  It was free of anything in my way, and it was already clean!                            I was going into a room that didn’t need any cleaning done to it.  Do you know the only problem? It was empty.  Although there was no potential  mess, there was no potential anything.                                                                                                                                                                       It is so hard to walk back into a mess.  It’s much easier to sit on the floor of something neat and tidy.  That is until you want something more.  Unearthing pain seems backwards.  Admitting you are hurt or at fault seems pointless after so long.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             I remember a reality show a few years back that was painful to watch and yet so many of us did.   One of the parents could not deal with the enormity of her children ruining their clothes, or making big messes. The reason was they had a total of 8 children.  They had to play it safe.  Even though they wanted to act like their kids were being messy and having fun sometimes, I don’t think they were. And the parent with the overriding paranoia of not keeping things “so so” basically lost their family unit.

Do you need to step back in something tonight? I know it’s hard, but I pray we do.

John 10:11 Amplified Bible (AMP) Image11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep.

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We could not gr…

We could not grasp it.  The hurt again.  All over.  Not this family.  All they have been through.  God, why? 

Will you tell us Lord?

Last Wednesday on my way to class someone told me our class needed to pray.  Mike Beam was not breathing and had been rushed to the hospital.  By the end of class-the unthinkable. 

My mom called me Saturday night and said she had found the blog I wrote four years ago (almost to the day) about the sudden death of a very young sister in Christ.  A mother.  A wife.  A sister.  A friend.  It was heartbreaking and left us all with the reality of death.  Because when you’re at a funeral you can’t deny death.  The family rallied as best they could. I believe the spiritual leadership and strength of the widower’s father Mike Beam helped them to make it.  Mike and Kathy had a purpose in life: To love God with everything and love others in that same way.  That’s what they did.  In good times, in adverse times, in a constant hope for God to be lifted up.  So kind. 

You know how it is.  Trying to convince yourself that sobbing is not an option.  But well before we were to the family, the memories of Mike and Kathy and who they were to everyone flooded my face.   Kathy told our pastor that this funeral was NOT going to be a sad goodbye, but the backdrop for the glory of God as we all thanked Him for Mike.  Please don’t misunderstand.  The pain on Kathy’s face was so evident.  It hurt to know that Kathy’s life as she knew it will never be the same on this side of eternity.

But………..Mike truly did preach his own home-going –as well all will.  The pictures of him and his family were full of joy.  The stories we heard were almost the same as to Mike’s character.  Two things stick out especially.

  1. On that Wednesday, Mike was telling Kathy how beautiful she was, and how thankful he was for her.  Oh God thank you.  Thank you that she has that memory and we were blessed to hear of your mercy. 

 

  1. Mike was going to do something on Wednesday, but  a person came to mind, and rather than do what he had planned, he opted to call that person and talk with them and express his love.  Oh God thank you.  Thank you for letting me hear that plans you change aren’t because you don’t love me, but because you do.

Four weeks ago my boss’ brother died.  Mike and Kathy came to the funeral, and sat right behind me.  I introduced them to a coworker.  I can promise you that neither of the four of us thought four weeks later we might be at another funeral.  That same coworker told me that her husband had done some work for this family and could not believe it, but more than anything he talked about the man Mike was.

I think to some extent the Lord has answered my question, with the amount he wants me to know for now.

The point is not as much that life is short but that eternity is forever.

 Through this painful earthly death, Mike is being rewarded.  My spiritual senses are awakened by this reality.  The purpose that God has called me to; the time to do them is now.  I believe that this is an offering that Mike gave to Christ on my behalf, maybe on your behalf.  I believe that if this event is used as a means to get me started again at my Father’s business, people who never even knew Mike will be part of his reward. 

I got in the car to leave for work.  The song came on that was played at a memorial to Mike’s daughter-in-law less than four years ago.

Verse 1: Wake up to the sunlight With your windows open Don’t hold in your anger or leave things unspoken Wear your red dress Use your good dishes Make a big mess and make lots of wishes Have what you want But want what you have And don’t spend your life lookin’ back
Chorus: Turn up the music Turn it up loud Take a few chances Let it all out You won’t regret it Lookin’ back from where you have been Cuz it’s not who you knew And it’s not what you did It’s how you live
Verse 2: So go to the ballgames And go to the ballet And go see your folks more than just on the holidays Kiss all your children Dance with your wife Tell your husband you love him every night Don’t run from the truth ‘Cause you can’t get away Just face it and you’ll be okay
Chorus: Turn up the music Turn it up loud Take a few chances Let it all out You won’t regret it Lookin’ back from where you have been ‘Cause it’s not who you knew And it’s not what you did It’s how you live
Bridge: Oh wherever you are and wherever you’ve been Now is the time to begin
Verse 3: So give to the needy And pray for the grieving E’en when you don’t think that you can ‘Cause all that you do is bound to come back to you So think of your fellow man Make peace with God and make peace with yourself ‘Cause in the end there’s nobody else
Chorus Turn up the music Turn it up loud Take a few chances Let it all out ‘Cause you won’t regret it Lookin’ back from where you have been ‘Cause it’s not who you knew And it’s not what you did It’s how you live
‘Cause it’s not who you knew And it’s not what you did It’s how you live

Turn up the music.  God help me today to do this very thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He’s a beaver

One of my ALL TIME favorite movies is “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  I absolutely love the feelings it evokes inside of me when I watch it. We love to quote Susan “He’s a beaver. He shouldn’t be saying anything!” I also love the book The SCREWTAPE Letters. Both were written by C.S. Lewis. Saturday evening I was in Adam’s old room, spending my usual 10+hours per week  trying to wash a couch I purchased at G&W Boutique-a.k.a. Goodwill. I just can’t seem to get that mysterious smell out. But………..anyway, I was browsing Netflix trying to find something to watch. I somehow saw this movie and then “CS Lewis” I clicked on it.  What in the world? What was this? SHADOWLANDS. And much to my delight, it was a true story about CS Lewis. SSHHH………you hear that? Those were the angels singing. I loved it. Most people probably wouldn’t have. The movie was made in 1985.  It was nothing like “Hollywood bling-bling” It was an incredible true story that let me glimpse into the life of this very out of the box writer.

What are some of my other favorite movies you might ask?  Oh, that’s simple.“8 Track Guy in an I-Pod World”  or “Hug yo momma” or “Bail out plan”. What! You’ve never heard of them?  What’s your problem?  They are movies written by and starring the one and only Dennis Swanberg.  He jokes at times and says how the more refined church goers had possibly frowned on his comedy “in the name of the Lord.”

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=J21B1NNU

You know I am sure that these two were not always embraced or understood bytheir parents, peers, teachers, communities.  In fact, I’m sure at times they were ridiculed.

I’ve been ridiculed.  I’ve been misunderstood.  Those feelings have made me want to quit.  Perhaps at times I’ve allowed those feeling to cause me to quit.

 Last week I listened to Kay Arthur on TV and she challenged me.  Because throughher sharing her own life story and struggles, I realized that truthfully the temptation I suffer really is common to man.  The temptation to be angry or bitter, the temptation to quit, the temptation to cheat, the temptation to whatever. Human beings face this. It’s not the facing of it, but it’s the decision of what will I do when I’ve been told “it’s hopeless” or “you’re a failure” or “it’s over” or when I feel like I can’t go on.

I was listening to some Christian Hip-Hop from a couple years ago, and it was like putting a glove on.  I love it.  I get it.  I like all kinds of music.  So, I can just as easily say the same thing when I listen to Southern Gospel 100.1 Joy FM!                      At this moment I’m listening to my favorite group. You know it-DC Talk.  The lyrics and melody of their songs are the first time I realized Christian music can be gut wrenching and cool and deep. I am sure Dr. Jerry Falwell may have needed a few moments to decide what he thought of this out of the box of professing Christian rock-star wannabees.

I remember in Narnia, the first night Lucy sleeps at her temporary residence of the Professors she says “the sheets are scratchy.” It just didn’t feel right.  Many of us are wrapping our lives in a scratchy existence of who we think we should be based on what we’ve succumbed to.  We know it’s not right; we’ve just given in to the idea that we just can’t do any better.  You’ll feel more comfortable admitting who you are in Christ, than trying to be who you’re not in the name of Christ.

Exodus 4: 13 But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”                                                                                                    I Samuel 16:11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”    “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”                                                                                                                                                                                     Matthew 3: 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

What is God calling you to do that you haven’t done? Who does God say you are that you continue to deny?There are no limits to what He can do.  Why are we trying to put Him in a box?

Out of the box? Freak?  Yep. That’s me.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0MCFNNNU

 

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D-E-F-E-N-S-E NNNOOOO DEFENSE!

I must admit a guilty pleasure.  I simply love to get my co-worker lovingly nicknamed “Hawk” all riled up as he talks about natural cures for various things that trouble one in anything from: digestive issues, psychological and even one’s heart!! Is Hawk a Dr?  Well no silly! Hawk is an electrician who watches a lot of TV. He diagnosed me two weeks ago with a liver that just wasn’t up to par and instructed me to drink vinegar, eat flax seed and stop eating meat! But, the pleasure isn’t really in Hawk talking about all this; it’s in some of my co-workers who do not love to hear it like I do. There’s one co-worker who just gives me the dirtiest look, ‘cause there’s not telling where his conversations are going!

Like a few weeks back when he described in detail the particulars of his recent eye surgery.  If looks could kill as Shelle glared at me!  He talked about how it was basically painless, and then someone else chimed in about how something they had done to their heart was painless and that the Dr. had explained that these parts inside of our body had no nerve endings.  How strange.  The areas that you would think couldn’t tolerate that type of procedure without being unbearably painful can indeed handle it.

Made me think about how I handle my pain.

I got my feelings hurt last week.  It was the kind of thing that it stings it hurts so much.  I began to process it.  Think about it.  Stew over it.  And at some point God spoke to my heart: forgiveness is better than revenge. I wasn’t thinking “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord” “God’s gonna get YOU!” But, it was just that God was speaking to me that unforgiveness truly is not an option in the life of a believer. That’s tough to hear when you are hurting.  Doesn’t seem fair.  You are there for them.  They aren’t there for you.  You put them first.  They put you last.  You didn’t talk about them.  They talked about you.  You always want them to be comforted.  They have allowed and even caused your hurt.  I really believe that the following scripture
35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
and their doom rushes upon them.”

 

may be misused for us today.  I believe that first of all God isn’t saying “come on my favored child; watch me punish another believer on your behalf.” First of all, in the body of Christ, just like in our own homes, when one kid does wrong, he gets in trouble, but isn’t spited, or hated or cast out.  We act as if God is going to do this.  Second of all for those outside the body, God wants them in the family, so yes He will punish, yes He will protect you, but our attitudes are often spiritually smug and prideful, and that is not God’s attitude.  I have resolved that what God is saying to me is “you do not need to be at all concerned with them “getting theirs”.  You have no options here but forgiveness, and the payback you need to be concerned with is your own-that will keep you busy full time as you work on your own character.  Loves covers a multitude of sins, and Jesus said “forgive them” so I know this is true.

But the letting go, it hurts so much. The humiliation.  The feeling inferior.  I began to think about those surgeries.  The inner parts not hurting.  I also thought of a paper cut.  Is there anything more painful and yet more minimal as far as a cut?  But the inside of a person can be painless?

When I am in self-defense mode that’s what I get.  The power of self.  There ain’t much there.  I’m afraid.  I’m looking around.  I’m wounded and think I will die.  But if I lay my weapons down and allow that inner part to be exposed and maybe sacrificed, Who is in that place?  Who takes that pain and helps me?  I can handle more in God’s full power than the tiniest hurt on my own.

There are attacks that only God can take and either walk us through or destroy.

 

Dear God, I give you my hurt because you gave me your heart.  All of it.  All of you.  God forgive me for trying to keep any part of my being.  I pray for my friend reading this.  Lord we feel so pressed down, squeezed, lifeless.  God, please accept our full being, problems and all so that we can accept Your help in this moment.

We love you Lord!

Amen

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Do Gooder

There’s sin in the camp.

Yes, you heard it correctly, there’s an habitual sin problem in the church.

I’m sure you’re drawing your conclusions about which sin I might be referring to.

Gossip? Cheating? Stealing? Lying? Overeating? Vanity? Abuse?  (You fill in the blank) But no, none of these are the one I personally believe may just be the most prevalent amongst today’s Christ followers.

Roger talked about it in Sunday morning’s service, and I was reminded of my conviction of a few weeks back.

James 4:17

17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. NIV

We want to be known for what we “don’t” do.  I didn’t kill him even though I really wanted to!!  I didn’t steal my co-worker’s TV Dinner, and I could have! I was honest when my boss wanted to know if I thought he was a jerk!

That’s quite commendable.  No, really.

We’ve become good, safe, responsible-and sterile and lukewarm, and we could be making SomeOne sick over it. Revelation 3: 5-17“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

God help us!

Are you being hit upside the head by the Holy Spirit telling you to “wake-up”? I sure am.

Mark and I were in a car accident April 3.  After weeks of not much improvement my Dr. suggested physical therapy.  Well, it turns out I was not going to get a one hour massage at each session as I had originally thought!  In fact, waiting to be seen for the first time I read posters on the wall and wondered if I was at boot camp or physical therapy. It’s been painful-I don’t like pain.  It’s been sweaty-I don’t sweat.  It has required me to take a change of clothes on therapy days-I’m not that organized.

The result: I can sit down better on my injured tailbone. I can do those goofy neck exercises and my should pain will go away or at least be a lot better. I can do a number of other laughable stretches and exercises that are improving my quality of life.

It’s been hard. Real hard.  But is it worth it?  Oh yes, yes, yes, yes.

Not doing bad things is definitely a good thing. But, not doing that good thing is ALWAYS a bad thing. I Samuel5:22 22 But Samuel replied:

   “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
God is not “rejoicing” over us declaring “Well Lord, I know that you told me to call them and tell them I am praying for them, but I’m just gonna pray to You, and that way I will be more humble because they won’t feel indebted to me.”  NOT. He wants me to do what He says to do.

What are those good things we’re not doing?

Well I can only speak for myself. Forgiving.  Accepting.  Expressing sympathy by sharing in someone’s hurt, not speaking pity to make them fall into more isolation. Giving eye contact. Being truthful.

Just like my physical therapy-these do-good exercises will probably be different than you’d think.  People don’t always understand or embrace the good that God instructs us to do, but that’s ok.  It will get easier as we realize that we are doing good for people in order to please Him.  I read a wonderful thing today in  Purpose Driven Life® “You are not responsible for everyone in the Body of Christ, but you are responsible to them”      Day 18.

God is just not going to allow us to have the abundant life without this important part of His character expressing itself through us.

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I’m no princess…………….am I?

You know it still amazes me when I watch a reality show with pageant moms and daughters having a grand old time yelling at one another as the mom says “she loves this” on camera, or “we do this to boost her self esteem” as they put what is lovingly referred to as flippers-aka-false teeth fronts on a seven year old!

Things are different than they were fifty, forty,thirty, twenty, even ten years ago.  But………….what would it look like for girls, who will one day become teens, who will one day become aunts, and cousins, and wives and mothers and grandmothers to realize who Christ says they are, rather than telling them if they meet or even better exceed expectations, they just might have a shot at becoming “something.”

Women for many years now have been told that independence is a great thing.  As a result of being “self-sufficient” we won’t owe anyone anything, and won’t be accountable to anyone.  Yet many, many women I’ve met who never wanted to be dependent are just that.  But, it’s  more an enslavement than dependence.  What’s  worse are the children I’ve seen on TV, as well as encountered who must become independent to survive.

I have had an innate desire to prove to individuals that I could do “it”.

Achieve that dream.

Change who I was.

Not care what people thought.

The result……………..feelings of inadequacy, rejection, failure.

I’ve realized I will not ever be freed from the need of being loved and accepted and cherished.  And, I’m not meant to be.  Neither are you.  Neither are your precious little girls.

Does your girl know today that they are of utmost importance to someone?  I have a twenty one year old sweetie, and a ten year old who brings me joy and laughter.  But, I can promise you that with both of them there have been, and still are times when they feel anything but special or beautiful.  They have felt the sting of unkind words, and the fear of failure.  So has their mom.

Please join us for this year’s Princesses, Boys and Jesus at the Hampton Inn Gastonia.

This Friday-Saturday event will include an overnight hotel stay, two meals, snacks, and most important: time for you to pour truth into the hearts of your special girl(s).

This event is for K-6th grade.

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PB&J 2011

You know it still amazes me when I watch a reality show with pageant moms and daughters having a grand old time yelling at one another as the mom says “she loves this” on camera, or “we do this to boost her self esteem” as they put what is lovingly referred to as flippers-aka-false teeth fronts on a seven year old!

Things are different than they were fifty, forty,thirty, twenty, even ten years ago.  But………….what would it look like for girls, who will one day become teens, who will one day become aunts, and cousins, and wives and mothers and grandmothers to realize who Christ says they are, rather than telling them if they meet or even better exceed expectations, they just might have a shot at becoming “something.”

Women for many years now have been told that independence is a great thing.  As a result of being “self-sufficient” we won’t owe anyone anything, and won’t be accountable to anyone.  Yet many, many women I’ve met who never wanted to be dependent are just that.  But, it’s  more an enslavement than dependence.  What’s  worse are the children I’ve seen on TV, as well as encountered who must become independent to survive.

I have had an innate desire to prove to individuals that I could do “it”.

Achieve that dream.

Change who I was.

Not care what people thought.

The result……………..feelings of inadequacy, rejection, failure.

I’ve realized I will not ever be freed from the need of being loved and accepted and cherished.  And, I’m not meant to be.  Neither are you.  Neither are your precious little girls.

Does your girl know today that they are of utmost importance to someone?  I have a twenty one year old sweetie, and a ten year old who brings me joy and laughter.  But, I can promise you that with both of them there have been, and still are times when they feel anything but special or beautiful.  They have felt the sting of unkind words, and the fear of failure.  So has their mom.

Please join us for this year’s Princesses, Boys and Jesus at the Hampton Inn Gastonia.

This Friday-Saturday event will include an overnight hotel stay, two meals, snacks, and most important: time for you to pour truth into the hearts of your special girl(s).

This event is for K-6th grade.

Please visit link for more information. 

Dolls and Fairy Tales are still around

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Tough to understand and explain

You know how we are.  We got through “stuff” and feel unfairly attacked, or just feel confused or rejected and turn to the book of Job.  I did some reading recently in Job and spoke on man’s righteousness in God thru His son.  I think there has been a long time misunderstanding that righteousness is conditional.  It’s not.  And it’s really difficult sometimes to admit that truth to others out of a fear that they won’t live up to what we perceive as God’s standards.  You see we want them to be their best, and do their best and achieve their best and we don’t trust that God is the one who does the molding and convicting and breaking and shaping.

 

God revealed thus truth to me out actually out of Genesis with what He said to Abraham.

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:6

I have read this and heard this many times throughout my life, but as you know, God’s word is fresh and the Holy Spirit gives revelation.  I got it, maybe for the first time.  My perception had been:

Abram believed God could do miracles, and because of that, God used Abraham, and because of his faith, the Lord put stickers and highlighted Abram’s name and he would get extra credit on heavenly quizzes.

But I didn’t understand, which explains my usual state of feeling like a “less than” regardless of what I do to try to be good, or do nice things, or whatever.

Light-bulb moment: Abram believed God-Abram trusted God-Abram declared-God is God.  Abram didn’t put his faith in what God could do, he put his faith in God, and that was exactly what God required to declare him righteous.  The belief.  Not the belief in the thing he could do.  Not the belief in the creation.

Now……….he was righteous.  It was done.

So as I read this with a new understanding, I felt a burden to share it.  I understand some of your anxiety.  You think “wait, if I tell my friend Bob who’s new in His faith that God loves him no matter what, he’ll think I’m saying it’s ok to keep doing the stuff he’s doing that goes against who God is.” I had struggled with that also (and still do sometimes), but I believe that some people continue to fail, because they continue to believe their righteousness is in their behavior.  When you think that, you are not living in the FACT that your righteousness is in Him.  Often times when sharing this people (Christians) say “Yes, your righteousness is in Him, but…………………”.  Guys there’s not a but.  Abram believed God and he was righteous.

 

So, as I shared recently out of the book of Job, my focus was on Job’s friends or enemies I guess.  On the fact that he was misunderstood by those guys.  How they pounded him with false conviction, and that sometimes we will not get answers to things that happen that we don’t understand.

But, there was a fourth man amongst the friends who has given me yet another revelation.
Elihu

Job 1 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him.

Wow.  See the problem that Christians have with this entire behavior thing is our understanding that we desire to please God and feel an urge that in some way He wants others to do the same, but our misunderstanding of how to communicate it.  I’m there with you.  Elihu knew that to rebuke without reason, articulated reason would leave a feeling of rejection and confusion in every way.  So he didn’t do that.  He had a reason to have issue-his God was not being given ultimate authority by Job, and he found a way to glorify God and declare God righteous.  He didn’t condemn Job, he spoke truth.

 

There are two extremities in Christendom today-

1.    Scare the Hell out of people

2.    People can live like Hell, but if they are going to Heaven, it’s all good.

Both are wrong.

I John 4:18 screams that abiding in Jesus love frees us from fear.

Ephesians 5:8 says that when His loves abides in us that the light we live in bears fruit in the way we live.

But how can both come from the same God?  One says “God’s love casts out fear” and one says “6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”

But this is what God has revealed to me.  God loves me and you, no matter what we do, no matter what we don’t do. His love for us is influenced in no way by our behavior.  None.

What we are doing, or are not doing by our ACTION AND DEEDS is saying, or not saying “Father, I love you.”  We love God by the things we do.  He loves us no matter what we do.

So, for that reason, what we do matters.  It’s just like out own kids, we love them even when they are less than.  We can’t not love them-but we can however not like them.  If our kids act up and rebel and disrespect and say “But I love you” something about that seems a little empty.  Hello?  If we ask them to do something and they say “But I love you.  Oh, and I need $75.00 by tomorrow for that school trip.” Something about that feels like being used not being love.  It’s this way with God.  God always love.  His corrects in love, he rewards in love, he heals in love, and he allows us to wait in love.

Righteousness in Him first through belief in Him, living in His love comes after.

Maybe in the next blog we can talk specifically about some ways in Scripture He says to love Him.

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I am the Clay

It is 11:00 on Saturday night.  This is the first time I’ve blogged in a long, long time.  My computer crashed at work weeks ago!  I have been literally gone constantly, and when I am at home it seems I’m trying to clean, trying to  get something ready (for Unbound, or Vision or homeless).  I couldn’t even process thoughts clearly enough to blog.

I really crashed last Sunday. You see last weekend Unbound spoke at Ridgecrest and it was truly wonderful.  But not because of us, because of HIM.  Because God is constantly pursuing and wooing us to Him in every circumstance.  Good.  Difficult.  Desert.  Blessed.  In every moment He’s saying “Come to me.  I’m right here.”  I read this verse and shared it with several people after we got there.

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Matthew 11:20Next Jesus let fly on the cities where he had worked the hardest but whose people had responded the least, shrugging their shoulders and going their own way.

21-24“Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half of the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you. And Capernaum! With all your peacock strutting, you are going to end up in the abyss. If the people of Sodom had had your chances, the city would still be around. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you.”

25-26Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

27Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Isn’t that beautiful?  It’s God saying “You won’t find rest without me, and I want to give it to you.”

I can’t speak for everyone, but at least for me, I was physically drained, and literally felt spiritual warfare.  I didn’t feel stress, I just felt an intense awareness that if God wasn’t God, I was in trouble!  Shauna had relatively major health issue, but went because God had given her a word earlier in the week and she felt God wanted her there.

Kate Carlson and her mom Melissa were at the event.  Kate is an amazing worship leader and artist, who also has cute hair and clothes!!  Melissa has a testimony somewhat similar story to mine. So that was sort of neat, since I didn’t know prior to the event.

http://www.katecarlsonmusic.blogspot.com/

Kathryn Foy spoke along with UNBOUND and said something quite profound.  She talked about the Potter and the clay, but she talked about how it is to be the clay.  People usually focus on the Potter.  She talked about how scary it is to be the clay.  Being molded and not knowing exactly what was happening to you.  How a dried piece of pottery that has been “messed up” has to be broken and begin that molding process again.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%2018:%201-5&version=NIV

I want brokenness in my life.  See, I think lots of people are broken for lots of reasons.  But it’s what we decide to do in our brokenness, with our brokenness that makes the difference.

I am so thankful for the trials and struggles in my life.  These are the things that give me the advantage of truly giving compassion and being able to say “I understand.”

The event had a lot of brokenness and raw truth, and I think that’s what God wants.  I was listening to Chip Ingram today and he talked about Adam and Eve being naked and feeling no shame. He said that the deeper meaning of what this meant was not hiding and covering up who they were.  Not hiding, or being ashamed, or avoiding.

Are you hiding and covering up yourself from your Creator?  I try to sometimes, and yet the reality is that is impossible.

I am EEEXXXCCCIIITTTEEEDDD about a study Vision is starting.

What if God wants something more than a safe and predictable life for those who love Him? In his second Bible study from Threads, author Mark Batterson furthers the themes of his book Wild Goose Chase by exploring the idea of reclaiming the adventurous spiritual life God intended for His followers. Maybe life with Christ should be a little more like a wild goose chase … mysterious, unpredictable, and even dangerous.

Ideal for small groups, Chase the Goose is a six-session study that encourages young adults to take hold of the passions God has put in all of our hearts, while learning about the very nature of God Himself in the process. True goose-chasers will glean wisdom from studying the lives of Nehemiah, Moses, Abraham, Peter, Paul, and Jonathan as they are challenged to leave behind the cages of responsibility, routine, guilt, failure, assumptions, and fear that have held us back in the past. Join the journey of never knowing where you’ll end up, who you’ll meet, or what you can do as you follow the Holy Spirit into the spiritual adventure God has planned for all Christ-followers.

Chapter Topics Include:

  • The Cage of Responsibility—Practicing responsible irresponsibility with Nehemiah
  • The Cage of Routine—Learning the danger of empty ritual with Moses
  • The Cage of Assumptions—Breaking out of the eight-foot ceiling with Abraham
  • The Cage of Guilt—Reconditioning our conditioned responses with Peter
  • The Cage of Failure—Experiencing shipwrecks and snakebites with Paul
  • The Cage of Fear—Climbing the cliff with Jonathan

Study Length: 6 Sessions

CAN NOT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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