Category Archives: redemption

in The Cross

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In the beauty of the world . . .

. . . we see God’s existence

In the brokenness of the world . . .

. . . we see God’s justice

We see God’s mercy . . .

. . . in The Cross.


not disqualified

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I look at the face staring back at me from the mirror . . . thinking “Who do you think you’re fooling?  You’re so disqualified.  What in the world do you have to offer?  You are broken . . . of absolutely no use.”  It’s those lies speaking into my heart.

His Word tells me my brokenness placed in God’s hands doesn’t disqualify me.  He redeems me from that mess of broken pieces all over life.  My brokenness actually qualifies me for His use.

God used two broken stone tablets to cause the Israelites to repent of their disobedience.

God used broken earthen vessels (pitchers that covered torches) to give the impression of an enormous army accompanying Gideon and to cause his enemies to pull back in dread.

God used a broken heart to return King David to Himself.

God used a broken roof to provide access for a cripple to be lowered by four faithful friends into the healing presence of Jesus.

God used broken loaves to feed five thousand and then some.

God used broken fishing nets to challenge the disciples to depend on Him rather on their own efforts for their needs.

God used a broken flask of nard to express the love that flows out of a relationship with Him.

God used a broken ship to steer Paul to the island of Malta to reveal the gospel to the natives there.

God used a broken body, pierced for our sins, to provide salvation for all mankind.

from M. R. DeHaan, Broken Things:  Why We Suffer


all things new

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Behold I am making all things new.  ~ Revelation 21:5

On the hunt for signs of new life.  Spring has been teasing us for the last several weeks here after an unusually cold and pretty dreary winter in Texas.  The days of biting cold, icy roads, and winter storm warnings (school closures!) are surely behind us!  Now the signs of His breathing new life into the deadness of nature are showing all around us.  The anticipation of what God is going to do brings a fresh hope.

The little green leaves of the bluebonnets poking through the dirt . . .  bring hope.

The lone clump of Indian paintbrush . . . brings hope.

The mother bluebirds building their nests in the houses lining our fence  . . . bring hope.

The sounds of a hosts of different birds awakening the woods . . . bring hope.  

The massive old trees budding out with tiny spurts of green  . . . bring hope.  

The freshness in the air as I walk outside . . . brings hope.

All signs of spring!  How I love spring because it’s the season that wipes away all the dead, the dreariness and brings the promise of new life.  But you know it’s not just the in trees, the flowers, the birds that new life is promised.  His promise is for us!  He makes us new.

So in looking around the promise of new life all around me today, I am reminded that there was a time in my life I too was dead, dead like much like things in nature in winter.  But He made me a new creation!!

It’s not just a seasonal event that happens.  God is constantly at work in my life.  He is continuously working the soil of my heart through His Spirit.  Even when it’s hard to see from my human perspective, I know He is at work even in the smallest details of life.

I know I can trust HimSo I cling to His promise, anticipating with fresh hope the day when all things are made new.

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renewing

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The other day while thumbing through some notes found in the Bible I had used for many years, I ran across these words that had been shared in a past study.  I had to smile because of the coincidence of the content and my *2014 word* RENEW —— Coincidence?  Ummm…. no, I don’t think so!

Renewing the mind is a little like refinishing furniture. It is a two-stage process. It involves taking off the old and replacing it with the new. The old is the lies you have learned to tell or were taught by those around you; it is the attitudes and ideas that have become a part of your thinking but do not reflect reality. The new is the truth. To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behavior will be transformed.  (source unknown)

Growing up with parents who enjoyed antique shopping and a grandmother who had her own little shop, I spent quite a bit of time being my dad’s “helper” when it came time to refinish many of the furniture finds.  Some of the pieces were unbelievably ugly, and often I would think “there’s no way this piece is going to ever find its way into our home.”  But as my dad would painstakingly strip away the layers upon layers of paint, the beautiful original wood would be exposed.  After all the steps of the taking away the old were complete, the process of replacing it with a new finish would result in a total transformation of the piece.

So stumbling across the words I had written down years ago, the message was clear.  The transformation that I desire is not just a switch of one behavior to another, but it is a process.  And just like refinishing furniture, it’s tedious and messy work.  It’s not a one-time exercise, but it is one that I need to do daily. This renewal must come not only from the outside in, but more importantly from the inside out.

What does this look like?  For me, the old are the lies that I have allowed the enemy to whisper into me; it’s the walls that I had built up over the years to protect myself; it’s the healing of hurts and scars.  The new is daily asking the Spirit to show me the things I have hidden deep in the recesses of my mind and heart.  To show me, to break my heart and my mind of anything that blinds me, no matter how much it may still hurt, from His Truth.  

The great Exchange – new for the old.

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not an orphan anymore

Big Top at OBT

Big Top at OBT

[Click to hear “Orphan” – Ronnie Freeman Band]

You think so much of me
You take delight in me
You paid the price for me
Then you adopted me

I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours
I stand before you now adored, I’m yours
Your cross has set me free
New life belongs to me
I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours

You took my guilt and shame
Gave me a brand new name
You call me your beloved
I call you Abba Father.

I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours
I stand before you now adored, I’m yours
Your cross has set me free
New life belongs to me
I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours


Now I feast at the table of the King

And His love is the banner over me
His Love the banner over me!

I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours
I lost the fight, but won the war, I’m yours.
Your cross has set me free
Victory has set me free


I’m not an orphan anymore,

I’m Yours.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first time I heard Ronnie Freeman and his band play this song, we were sitting in a big tent, “The Big Top” at Outback Texas during a time called “Abiding, Gratitude, Sharing.”   It was an absolutely beautiful November weekend just outside Brenham, Texas.  Ministering to, praying for couples ~husbands and wives, parents and teens ~  as each began peeling back the layers, earnestly spending time restoring, building, strengthening their relationships with one another, experiencing the Glory of their Abba Father.  Then hearing this song . . . the words so simply stated. . .  tears began streaming down my cheeks.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  Being blessed to be born into a loving, Christian family who lived out Christ daily, I knew I was loved not just by my earthly daddy, but most importantly by my Father.  As a young girl I began my personal heart and life journey of grace, mercy, forgiveness, perseverance, patience, and courage with my Abba Father.  

Most times, the journey was easy, especially in those early years living at home.  Once out on my own, the journey began to take some difficult paths that I wasn’t familiar with.  I’d find myself diverted off His path, I’d come back, only later to walk a little bit off the path again. These side-trips were never of huge proportion.  Oh,but looking back each one deprived me of precious time, of precious Joy, of untold blessings.  As difficult, and as dark as some of those times would prove to be over the years – even a season of feeling totally abandoned here on earth –  I know .  .  . I know I was never abandoned by my Abba Father.

Those paths were of my own choosing, no doubt.

So what was it that made those tears stream down my face?  A multitude of things.

Gratitude.  Gratitude for having had the foundation of my life in Him laid down at such an early age. That even in my disobedience, He continued to pursue me, calling me back.  Gratitude for as broken as my life had been, it was no longer that way because of His Grace and His Mercy. 

Brokenness and Forgiveness.  I am finally able to begin to truly and honestly lay aside those things which have caused hurt and pain.  I am able to begin to forgive.  Most of all – forgive myself.  I know in Him there is no condemnation. 

A sense of sadness. Sadness because I was reminded of how I had spent so much time sitting underneath His table, eating just the crumbs that happen to fall, when I could have been enjoying His Feast.  Sadness for the fellowship, the close communion I had allowed myself to miss over the years. Sadness also because the words of the song reminded me of my Prodigal and how his choices are depriving him of the close relationship with the one he would call Abba Father as he would pray.

Peace. Peace because the victory is His.

Joy.  Joy because He gives me Hope.  Joy because I’m not an orphan anymore. I am His.


forgiveness {laying down my right to be right}

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  Forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.
Colossians 3: 13-14

But I’m in the right .  . .

He owes me the apology.  I didn’t start this . . .

She had it coming.  It’ll be a long time before I speak to her again . . .

Sound familiar?

 

When I read the following from a piece by Joe Dallas the other day, the comments started the replay button in my head.

When I’m at my most childish, I mentally line up the people who’ve hurt me, order them to face the wall, then fire off a few rounds. They had it coming. They shot their mouths off one too many times, or they broke my heart, or they didn’t return my calls. Whatever – their sins vary, from the kindergarten teacher who kept me after school to the close friend who betrayed me and never apologized. Sentencing them feels powerful; executing them feels omnipotent.

No wonder so many of us have such a hard time forgiving! Grudges endow us with a false sense of strength. We feel a surge of adrenaline when we’re self-righteously looking down at someone else’s sin, the false power of the Unforgiving lording it over the Unforgiven. But it’s crippling as well. It exempts us from God’s forgiveness, since Jesus made it clear our Heavenly Father withholds grace from those who withhold it from others, and it keeps us forever feeling like victims when we remember the wrongs others have done us, then mentally exact our revenge.

I think C.S. Lewis had it right.  Forgiveness sounds like a really good thing, the right thing to do – until I’m the one who has to do the forgiving. And then it can be a difficult thing to do, especially when the source is someone who close – at home, in the family, at church, at work.

And then I look up at the Cross. Forgiving Grace and Mercy looks down at me with His shed blood.  And I think of the words and actions that have hurt me, the BIG and the small.

I have choices to make.  Do I stuff the feelings down deep inside my heart, carrying them around only to let them fester?  Do I take it out on others around me?  Do I shut down emotionally?  Do I . . .?

~ OR ~

Do I follow in obedience . . . and forgive?

Forgiveness  – I lay down my right to be right.

Forgiveness  – I look at the other person through the lens of grace.

ForgivenessI lay down the olive branch and forgive {even if it’s just between God and me} instead of becoming the victim of my hurt.

Forgiveness –  I don’t keep an account.  I don’t keep score.  God is the Final Judge, not me.


old things have passed away

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Starting over.  A fresh start.  A new beginning.  An eternal gift.

I ask myself, what do I have to offer Him?  What do I bring to the table in this relationship I desperately desire to have with Him?  After all, He gave His life for me . . . He gave it All, wiping my slate clean. 

I have nothing . . . absolutely nothing.  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

All I could see were my old ways, my old life, my old heart that had been hardened by the hurt, the sin, the bitterness, the evil in my life and in the world.  All He sees is me, the new me.

He takes the old me, dirty slate and all.  Me and all my the brokenness, He transforms me into a new creation – from the inside out.

It’s nothing, nothing but Grace. 


the palms of His hands

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What a great reminder this quote was the other day when I ran across it.  This summer I was blessed to be part of a women’s Bible study time focusing on True Identity – knowing who I am in Christ.

And knowing the more I agree with God about my identity, the more my life will reflect Him.  The more I wholeheartedly live in my True Identity, the less opportunity I give the enemy to steal my Identity away from me.  

So when the accuser whispers out the lies he crafts to deceive my heart~

You’re not good enough, you’re not loved, you’re not respected, you have no real purpose

Just look at them – their life is much more exciting, they have more than you, they’re so much better than you.

Really. . . you can’t compete with her!   You’re not pretty enough, or skinny enough, or talented enough, or smart enough .

And you call yourself spiritual? – God doesn’t care about you.

You’re a bad mother, a lacking wife, a disappointment – you have no legacy. 

Remember that time you ______ (fill in the blank with any sin).  You think He’d forgive you for that??? You’ll never change. 

. . .  and as you know with lies, there is truth mixed in with the deceit.

I don’t have to live in that place of failure, of defeat, of deceit.  Because I was worth dying for!  And His word tells us that there is now therefore no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

My Abba Father calls my name, Daughter.  I am love unconditionally, and I am redeemed by His blood, and am no longer a failure.

The Truth is found in the palms of the One who died for me.

The Truth lives in my heart.  And my life is in the palms of His Hands.

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See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
Isaiah 49:16 


who do you trust?

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The woman had been caught in the act of adultery.  Caught red-handed.  Guilty. The law said, “Stone her.”  Right then, right there.

There was nothing she could do.  No one would stand up for her.  There would be no mercy shown.  The group accusing her before Jesus were the leaders of the Law, the teachers of religious law, the Pharisees.  Who would stand against the Law?  Who would stand up to this group of accusers who had already grabbed stones in their hands, ready to stone this sinner to death?

No one stood up for her.  But One stooped down to her as she laid in a huddled mess of sin. 

Her accusers look down on her with contempt.  Her Redeemer put Himself beneath the woman and her accusers.  He leaned over and looking deep into the eyes of this woman, not pointing the finger of guilt in her face but to write in the dirt of the ground.  No one knows what He wrote, but He stooped down to the accused.

The maddening crowd continued to press the Teacher.  Her accusers continued to shout their accusations.  Demanding an answer – “What do you say?”  Stone her?

Only then did the silent, stooping Jesus stand up and look at the crowd of accusers.  I can imagine as He stood straight, looking each of them in the eye as He spoke.

He didn’t preach.  

He didn’t yell.  

He placed Himself between the angry mob and the woman.  

He now stood on her behalf.

His Words were few, but powerful.  “All right, stone her.  But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones.”  And then He bent down again to the woman and wrote in the sand.

Stones began falling one by one to the ground.  The accusers began to slip away.  Only Jesus and the woman were left.  Only then did He stand up and look at her.  He asked, “Woman, where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

And Jesus said, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

And so it is with you and me.  We can be free from accusations.  From condemnation.  For today and for tomorrow.  Whatever He wrote in the sand for the accused woman, He wrote for each of us.  FORGIVEN.  FORGIVEN. BY. GRACE.

Our Advocate, the Lamb of God, covers us.

It comes down to personal choice.  Do you trust your Advocate or the one who accuses?

“In the presence of God, in defiance of Satan, Jesus Christ rises to your defense.” ~ Max Lucado


in the cave

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I cry aloud to the Lord;
I plead aloud to the Lord for mercy.

I pour our my complaint before Him;
I reveal my trouble to Him.
Although my spirit is weak within me,
You know my way.
Along this path I travel they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.
I cry to You, LORD;
I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:1-5 (written by David when he was in a cave)

The question posed today was ~ “Where do you go when life gets overwhelming?” Like David in Psalm 142, we all have our caves.

What cave is your escape? Where do you run to when things seem to come at you from all directions; when things aren’t going like you plan/think/hope?  When other people’s lives or problems seem to overflow into yours?

Is it the cave of addiction ~ sex, drugs, alcohol? The cave of depression? The cave of mindless entertainment – a place to escape reality, not having to really having to interact with people?  The cave of surface relationships?  We all run to some place of escape and solitude.  The real question is, do we “do” life in this cave; do we stay in this darkness?

Pondering these verses, I was reminded of my own caves, seasons where I felt like I had nowhere, no one to really turn to.  Trying to keep all the plates spinning on my own,  I was not doing it well at all. Life in the cave of denial beckoned me.  Going there, I didn’t have to face what life was throwing at me; I could just pretend like everything was ok, even though it seemed as if everything was disintegrating all around me.  The problem with hiding out in a cave is that the problems don’t go away, they only intensify.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually I became a walking shell of a person letting my fears and denials control my life, living in the darkness.

I turned to the only place I knew ~ my Abba Father.  His Word, His Truth.  Crying out, I did question God.  I did ask “Why, God?” Pleading, I cried for His mercy.  I poured myself out to Him.   I stopped playing the ‘blame game.’ Yes, others’ actions, consequences, and their words did affect my life.  But I had made my own choices of how I responded.  I admitted my own weaknesses and my fears and my vulnerabilities. This  is the only way He could fill me with His strength.    And just like my earthly dad does when I walk through his door, my Abba Father welcomed me with open arms.

I realized I couldn’t go anywhere and be out of the reach of my Father.  I couldn’t hide in a cave, or lose myself in the darkness of denial and regret.  HE is calling out to me in a whisper, “What are you doing here?”  That still, small voice. There is no yelling or screaming  or pointing fingers at me.  Just as I have experienced during different times in my life with my own precious dad, there is only loving-kindness.  

He called me out of the cave, out of hiding.  “I didn’t make you for the darkness, for hiding.  I made you for more!”

The difference is found in Christ, not the cave.


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